An advisor to Mitt Romney has launched a lawsuit attacking President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, thereby making illegal immigration a hot election issue.
Kris Kobach, an advisor to the Romney
campaign on immigration, is the lawyer for ten government employees, including
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention and Removal Unit agents, who
have filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration claiming that DACA has
made it impossible for them to do their jobs. Mr Kobach is also the Secretary of
State for Kansas and a lawyer for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, an
organisation opposed to illegal immigration.
The DACA programme, which
was eventually introduced last week, enables illegal immigrants who
no convictions for serious offences,
• have lived in the US for five years,
under 30 and
• have a degree, have served in the military or are in school,
to apply for a determination that grants them an effective immunity from
deportation for two years. Successful applicants can then apply for a work
The agents claim in their suit that the DACA programme has made
it impossible for them to do their jobs. They claim that they are duty-bound, by
federal law, to detain and investigate illegal immigrants but they are being
ordered by federal government appointees not to do so.
They also argue
that the DACA programme 'unconstitutionally usurps and encroaches upon the
legislative powers of Congress.' By this they mean that the policy violates the
US doctrine of separation of powers between the legislature and the executive.
President Obama introduced the DACA programme by making an executive order. The
lawsuit claims that this is unconstitutional and that Congress should make laws
in the US, not the President.
The Defendants in the suit are Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton. President Obama's name
does not appear on the suit.
The Republicans have long claimed that
President Obama introduced the programme for political reasons. They say he
hopes to attract votes from the Hispanic community. Many of the people who will
be eligible to apply for a deferral, the Republicans point out, will be of
Hispanic ethnicity. Mr Kobach says that he informed the Romney campaign that he
would be bringing the lawsuit on behalf of his clients but did not discuss the
case with anyone on Mr Romney's staff.
Mr Kobach is well-known for his
anti-immigration stance in the US. He is best known in the US as the author of
Senate Bill 1070, an Arizona law governing the treatment of suspected illegal
immigrants. The law contains provisions that require state law enforcement
officers to check the papers of anyone that they have stopped if they have
reason to believe he may be an illegal immigrant. Mr Kobach is an advocate of a
policy of 'attrition through enforcement'. This means that the state should
enforce all laws strictly to make life as hard as possible for illegal
immigrants so that they will leave voluntarily. The policy is also sometimes
referred to as 'self-deportation'.
On Tuesday 21st August 2012 Mr Kobach
persuaded the Romney campaign to adopt a hard-line anti-immigrant stance to put
before Republican Party delegates at the party's National Congress which will
begin in Tampa, Florida on Monday 27th August. In particular, Mr Kobach has
persuaded Romney to support the efforts of state governments to deal with
illegal immigrants; that is, to support Senate Bill 1070.
Mr Kobach told
Fox News yesterday that 'the Obama administration has ordered federal law
enforcement agents to break the law, to ignore the laws that they're supposed to
enforce and, in the case of the ICE officers, to actually break federal laws
that say you're supposed to deport certain people. And in each case, the Obama
administration seems to be doing so for political reasons.'
On Tuesday, a
spokesman for the Romney campaign said that the Romney camp was hoping to
attract 38% of Hispanic votes in the election in November. At present, polling
suggests that Romney's Republicans have 28% Hispanic support compared to
President Obama's 63%.
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