Laura Ingraham used her radio show to push the falsehood that President Obama could waive deportations of all undocumented immigrants except for serious criminals, even though he has explicitly stated that such a move would be a violation of federal law. Legal experts also agree that it would be “problematic” for Obama to waive deportations of all undocumented immigrants.
Discussing immigration reform with Chris Crane -- the president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council and a frequent critic of the Obama administration, which has made him popular among right-wing media -- Ingraham let Crane accuse the Obama administration of not enforcing immigration law, saying that this “administration is ordering us not to enforce the law.” Crane continued with a series of whoppers about immigration enforcement:
CRANE: It is no longer illegal in the United States of America to be in this country illegally. You know, even if you have been convicted of multiple criminal convictions, we often cannot even put you into removal proceedings, into deportation proceedings, because you are protected by this president. And it's basically an open-borders policy that once you make it past the border and you're in the interior of the United States, you're free.
In reality, any undocumented immigrant who is arrested and convicted of a crime goes through deportation proceedings after they have been tried in criminal court. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement routinely holds hearings to determine whether an immigrant who has been convicted of a crime should be subject to removal following jail time.
As of May 2013, ICE had deported about 31,500 immigrants through the Secure Communities program since the beginning of the year, which flags immigrants in law enforcement custody for ICE removal.
In fiscal year 2012, the Obama administration deported a record number 409,849 immigrants, 55 percent of whom fell into ICE's high-priority categories. It is estimated that the administration deports at least 1,000 immigrants a day at this current pace.
When Ingraham later asked Crane whether it was a possibility that Obama would stop all deportations from the United States, Crane stated: “It's a possibility and I think it's a possibility regardless of what happens with immigration legislation.” Ingraham responded: “Yeah, they're kind of doing it anyway.” Crane then said:
CRANE: Well, absolutely. We already see right now that he completely ignores the law. He makes his own law through policy. And we're gonna see that again after, you know, if there is some type of immigration reform legislation put through. He's gonna take that and then he's going to continue to pick and choose which parts of that law he wants to enforce just like he is right now.
But Obama has been very clear that such a move would violate federal law. In a September interview with Telemundo, Obama stated that waiving deportations for undocumented immigrants was “not an option” :
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Here's the problem that I have, Jose, and I've said this consistently, my job in the executive branch is supposed to be to carry out the laws that are passed. Congress has said 'here is the law' when it comes to those who are undocumented, and they've allocated a whole bunch of money for enforcement. And, what I have been able to do is make a legal argument that I think is absolutely right, which is that given the resources that we have, we can't do everything that Congress has asked us to do.
What we can do is then carve out the DREAM Act, saying young people who have basically grown up here are Americans that we should welcome. We're not going to have them operate under a cloud, under a shadow. But if we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that's not an option.
Similarly, in a January interview with Univision, Obama replied to a question about instituting a moratorium on deportations by saying, “I'm not a king.” Obama added: “There are still going to be stories that are heartbreaking with respect to deportations until we get comprehensive immigration reform. That's one of the reasons I think it's so important for us to go ahead and get this action done.”
In August 2012, the Obama administration implemented the deferred action program, which defers deportation for up to two years for certain young undocumented immigrants. Legal experts argue however that expanding the program to include other groups would be “problematic” as Obama “would no longer be exercising his discretion.”
Crane also claimed that the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in June “does absolutely nothing to address the concerns of enforcement.” However, the bill put in place sweeping border enforcement measures that Sen. John McCain said would turn the Southwestern border into “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”