Even WSJ Wants Immigration Reform, But Obama's ICE Chief Stresses Enforcement

While even such a conservative stalwart as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page asks for comprehensive immigration reform and a stop to the Bush-era enforcement-only approach, the Obama administration’s chief of immigration enforcement has reiterated this week the government’s commitment to a hard-line approach.

At the same time, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano will host a meeting on immigration Thursday at the White House “with advocates, religious groups, businesses and law enforcers,” The Associated Press reported.

These latest developments seem to continue the Obama administration’s pattern of talking about reform while acting on enforcement.

John Morton, ICE chief - Photo: ice.gov

John Morton, ICE chief. (Photo: ice.gov)

“We will try to apply immigration laws in a tough, smart and thoughtful manner,”* said John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), during a visit to Los Angeles, according to a Spanish-language article in La Opinión by Feet in 2 Worlds contributor Pilar Marrero.

Morton signaled there will not be a stop to immigration raids.

Marrero wrote:

“If pro-immigrant activists expected that, with the arrival of a new government, raids would be suspended or deep change would be undertaken in the application of immigration law, Morton has a message for them.

“‘That’s not the point,’ Morton said.”

Morton’s statement came in a month of increasing bad news for the pro-immigration reform camp, and on the same day that ICE admitted the number of detainees who died while in custody was 10 higher than previously reported. The scandalous acknowledgment brought the total of immigrant deaths in jail to at least 104.

Morton also announced to reporters in L.A. that ICE has stopped using arrest quotas for its fugitive operations teams, a practice that had presumably led to incidents of racial profiling.

In a subsequent editorial, La Opinión called this piece of news “a tiny bit of relief in the midst of a generally worrisome landscape.”

Then, in a statement that could be applied to the administration’s overall approach to the immigration crisis, the newspaper said:

“The Obama administration is ultimately responsible for the operations of ICE and for the ways in which the federal agency and its local law enforcement partners act with impunity. Morton’s statements certainly don’t reassure us. The suspension of arrest quotas gives some hope as does the announcement of stronger federal oversight at the detention centers. However, actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to ICE.”

In preparation for Thursday’s meeting the Reform Immigration for America coalition asked people to send them questions they would like posed to White House officials. Wednesday afternoon, the leading one was: “¿Va a haber reforma migratoria?”

Is there going to be an immigration reform?

[* This post was updated to more accurately reflect Morton’s original English-language words.]


  1. The Democrats owe a debt to the Hispanic voter turnout that shifted the political landscape in the last election.

    Obama is merely giving lip service to comprehensive immigration reform, breaking his promise to address the issue in his first year in office by pushing the issue off to 2010, an election year.

    We shall see if the Democrats pay the price for this betrayal in the mid-term elections.

  2. Luther Farknagel

    Mr.Obama is proving himself quite sanguine when it comes to politics. He clearly knew what to say to get the vote and now is playing the electorate for fools in failing to follow through on one of the cornerstones of his personal platform. If he cannot follow through on this central campaign promise to resolve what is truly now a humanitarian crisis, he simply cannot be trusted — period. Hopefully there will be a groundswell of revolt among not only the Hispanic populace, but among the morally conscious of all races, so that such chicanery will prove his political doom. His current policy is not only a fiscal disaster, but a moral catastrophe.

  3. Eddie Brown

    Odd… Yeah. When one breaks the law (any law.) more times than not the result will be an unpleasant experience if You get caught. This fact is what keeps many people from breaking the law. However, some people do foolish things regardless of the consequence, And often get angry when they reap the fruits of their foolish behavior. And often blame others for the situation their desisions and behavior got them in… A Very interesting point of view, Indeed.

  4. jvilla

    if the usa did not want to give illegals obamas health plan what makes you think we want to give them citizenship. americans dont want immigration reform , we dont want obamas health plan to go to illegals or illegals children the way he wanted us to agree to. obama needs to start massivie deportations so we can save on food stamps, wic, medicaid, chips, we have to stop educating and spending millions of dollars on bilingual education. obama start giving illegals automatic citizenship!


    you don’t know what you are saying…May God have mercy on you…God has blessed this country because of his humanitarian service for the foreign people…once you step out of God’s plan for the foreigner…there is problem look Russia and other Nation,where their foreign policy towards stranger is hatred…too much misery and complication…Read the Bible from the book Genesis

    if you really know the basic foundation of this Nation.

  6. Lea Reiter

    An 8track tape deck has put my Canadian LPR boyfriend on the wrong side of the DOJ & DHS. After 8 years of fighting, DHS has tricked the surety company into forfeiting his bond. An expunged misdemeanor from 1978 could land him in detention even if he wins his current appeal at the Federal circuit court. Guess who’s footing the bill for the four government attorneys who are crafting arguments against him?

    At issue here is unbridled government authority. One day you’ll be saying, “First they came for the immigrants, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an immigrant.”

    I have spoken.

  7. Ellen

    I read an article in the LA Times (10/06/09) where John Morton (ICE) was planning to house ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS in hotels, etc. (based on the severity of their CRIMES). “They” say this will save money as the CRIMINAL ILLEGALS will not be housed in jails and prisons. I am asking why these ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS are being housed at all? Why aren’t they being deported? That would certainly save MORE MONEY!

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