U.S. Representative Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, approaches immigration reform in three different ways.
He would like to see immigration reform legislation pass in Congress and become law when signed by President Barack Obama. If that is not possible, González, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, then would like to see his colleagues in the House and Senate approve the DREAM Act, that would grant a pass to citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants who go to college or sign up to serve in the armed forces for at least two years.
González and his colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus understand that their first preference is next to impossible; Democrats could not get it approved when they controlled the House of Representatives by an overwhelming number and when they had a 60-40 majority in the Senate.
In fact, even the DREAM Act failed in a lame duck session of Congress. It was not able to get the 60 votes it needed for a vote. It failed by four.
So González and the Hispanic Caucus have brought up to president Obama a third approach. One, they believe is entirely in the president’s hands; one that the president could enact without approval from congress.
According to the San Antonio Current in a column written by Michael Barajas under the banner Migrant Nation, what members of the Hispanics Caucus want is for President Obama to rein in ICE until they can pass the reform legislation they seek. They want the administration to halt and retool its controversial Secure Communities program, which is intended to catch and deport serious criminals but which critics have said snares and deports untold numbers of immigrants with no criminal history.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement numbers show that at least 235 out of the 1,042 taken into ICE custody under the program in Bexar County had no criminal history. Of the 653 deported out of Bexar County under the program, roughly 100 had no criminal history, the publication said.
Because of this they believe the administration can do two things:
· It can set a consistent and uniform policy so that if there’s a DREAM kid that’s in the immigration process, they should not be a priority for deportation. The Caucus asked the president to set those priorities and see if we can set a uniform policy across [the Department of Homeland Security], and he indicated that he does have those same priorities. The goal is not to detain and deport kids that have gone to college here or who wish to serve in the military.
· We’re also asking him to review the procedures in Secure Communities, which is a program that was devised to identify, apprehend and deport dangerous criminals. In this case, they asked the president why would DHS detain and deport somebody who doesn’t have a criminal record and is somehow stopped for one reason or another.
González said “they’re not the identifiable, targeted criminal element we say we’re looking for right now. We want to find the criminals, but what [Secure Communities] is doing is ensnaring a lot of people that don’t have a criminal history — students, people who have families in the United States, people who have American citizen children. So we’re just saying set clear priorities for this program. Concentrate on apprehending those that truly don’t add anything to our society and that pose a threat to the safety and welfare of our citizens,” he added.