Obama’s Immigration Policy like Déjà Vu

Houston immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee is noticing similarities between the Obama Administration on immigration enforcement – and the actions of Bush-Cheney.

She never thought she’d be saying what she’s saying. Immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee welcomed a Barack Obama Presidency as he stormed into the White House last fall riding the crest of a popular tide. She remembers Obama’s campaign promises of evenhanded immigration enforcement policies that would be pursued. But the results have not held true. “I can’t believe I’m saying this less than a year into his first term,” says Ms. Banerjee, “but what he’s doing is like an evil déjà vu. Obama’s policies are turning out to be Bush-like.”

According to an August 3, 2009, article published in the New York Times, she’s right. The Obama Administration is pursuing a nearly identical policy of rabid immigration enforcement, a catering to the agenda of the previous eight years. “It’s incredible,” she says, “They’re increasing I-9 audits, the E-Verify program has actually been implemented – the current Administration has introduced a Draconian program to check the immigration status of every person held at any time in their lives for any crime. While these policies are meant to deter illegal immigration, the potential for blatant civil rights violations, especially in combination with racial profiling of Hispanic Americans, is like a wide-open barn door.” In fact, racial profiling has become routine in immigration enforcement, and just like Bush-Cheney, the more egregious the abuse the more anti-immigration forces seem to stand up in rabid cheering sections as they urge yet more distance from fair-minded enforcement.

Apologists inhabit the ranks of prominent Democrats too. The Times article quotes Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) as saying, “Democrats have to convince the American people there will not be new waves of illegal immigrants after an overhaul passes.”

While Schumer’s words may contain a grain of truth, to Houston-area immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee, it is sounding a bit too familiar. “He’s just pandering to the right-wingers,” she asserts, “Immigration enforcement should be left up to the harsh realities of the marketplace. If there is a need for foreign workers, businesses will get them. No one will cross illegally into the United States, risking life and limb, leaving behind their families, if there are no jobs in the U.S. for them to do. What we don’t need is more Bush-era laissez faire.”

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