Support for the review of deportation cases announced last week by the Department of Homeland Security has earned the support of progressive organizations, and even some conservatives.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, a Republican, said in a conference call hosted by the National Immigration Forum today that he applauds Homeland Security’s decision to use prosecutorial discretion in immigration deportation to focus resources on “people who are here to violate our laws in felonious ways.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said during the conference that he applauds the measures, calling the decision to review cases “a Christian decision to protect the innocent.”
“The cook at Arby’s with three children was deported with the drug dealer, that was wrong,” Rodriguez said. He said he does not support the idea of amnesty, adding that the new measures are “not backdoor amnesty but humane executive action to protect families.”
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is pro-life, and supported The Response, a prayer rally with GOP presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Jenny Yang — director of advocacy and policy for World Relief, “the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals which represent 45,000 churches across the U.S.” — said the announcement by Homeland Security is welcome by many evangelical churches across the country, adding that she has worked with God-fearing, law-abiding immigrants who are being deported.
“U.S.-born children were having their fathers and mothers ripped apart from them before the children could see them to say goodbye,” Yang said.
She also pointed out that “while many of the details remain to be ironed out by the administration this is a welcome step” and “Congress still gets the message they still need to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
Asked if these measures were created to garner Latino votes, Rodriguez said both parties need to reach out to the Hispanic electorate, but “if this were purely political the president and his administration would have made this decision a lot sooner.”
“I do think at the end of the day it has to do with the reality that with our lack of resources we have to prioritize,” he said, adding that “both parties need to understand it will be very difficult to win critical swing states without engaging the Hispanic electorate.”
Shurtleff said that the principles of the GOP are the importance of law enforcement, public safety, family, a belief in God, etc., but “in the last several years we’ve had the only voice here for the Republican party and conservatives is this shrill anti-immigration ‘Round them all [up] and ship them home,’ and it is unrealistic — an irrational position — and hurting our efforts in the Republican party to attract people from all sectors of society.”
“There is a solid basis in conservative Republican politics for the use of limited resources to best protect the public,” Shurtleff said. “It pains me to see so many of my colegues trying to make it political and not understand the importance of this law enforcement concept.”
Shurtleff said the tea party is damaging to the immigration debate because “there is no rational approach to this issue.” The tea party is nominally in favor of reducing government spending, but with immigration, “it is about ‘Round them up and ship them home.’” He said unless we spend billions of dollars, the country couldn’t process and deport all undocumented immigrants.
In a statement issued yesterday, State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy — a group of lawmakers from around the nation “advancing sensible and progressive state approaches to immigration policy” — said they support the “new guidelines that will hopefully ensure immigration authorities will focus on deporting only those who commit violent crimes.”
The statement adds that they, “applaud DHS’s announced plans for a case by case review of the roughly 300,000 people already involved in deportation proceedings, and hope that they receive the due process which so many of them were deprived of when first picked up through the Secure Communities program.”
The group includes 81 state legislators from 36 states (none from Florida). According to its press release, the “newly announced guidelines for prosecutorial discretion by immigration authorities come in response to immense pressure from countless advocates around the nation,” but the move “only highlights the nation’s growing need for comprehensive immigration reform.”