In light of the new policy on deportation, a January interview with Maria Elena Salinas [MES] of Univision -- assumes new significance:
MES: But Mr. President, one of the concerns is the deportations. Over 1.2 million people have been deported under your administration. More families separated under your administration than any other president. You couldn’t do anything administratively for this?
PBO: Well, there are some things that we are doing. Now first of all, the fact is Congress allocates this money. That means that there are additional enforcement mechanisms out there. Whoever was president, you were going to see some increase in terms of enforcement.
MES: But why the deportations? Why is it necessary?
PBO: But, but, well, because that’s the law that’s on the books right now. And the way our system works, the president doesn’t have the authority to simply ignore Congress and say, we’re not going to enforce the laws that you’ve passed. What we do have the ability to do, and what we have systematically done, is to use our administrative authority to prioritize and say, let’s not focus on Dream Act kids. Let’s not focus on a law-abiding family that is out there trying to, you know, make their way. Let’s focus on folks who are engaged in criminal activity. Let’s focus on those that are breaking laws not just immigration laws. And in fact you’ve seen a steady increase in the percentage of those who are deported who have committed crimes. Now I can’t, again, just wave away the laws the Congress has put in place. But what we’ve tried to do is to, you know, create a system that’s more humane, that is better prioritized. And until we get comprehensive immigration reform, there’s going to continue to be heartbreaking stories. That’s what we’re trying to change. But ultimately the way we change it, is we’ve got to change our politics. And that’s why I talked about it at the State of the Union and that’s why I’m going to keep on talking about it.