More than once in recent weeks I’ve suggested that in its waning months the Obama administration would use its lame duck status to slip through as many more “transformational” changes to immigration policy and regulation as it thinks it can get away with.
One was official adoption of a sadly weakened definition of “extreme hardship” that will render it magnitudes easier for removable aliens, including aliens convicted of significant offenses, to sidestep the actual consequence of exclusion or deportation by being granted a waiver based on a finding of extreme hardship to the aliens’ family members. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) foisted this change off on an unsuspecting public via “policy” guidance to its adjudicators — almost certainly choosing this mechanism rather than going the regulatory amendment route that would have had to meet the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act by being announced in tentative form, published for public comment, etc., before being finalized.
There is also, at least in my mind, little doubt that the administration waited until the eleventh hour to make the change in order to minimize the chances that they would have to deal with the fallout if someone did choose to contest the method by which the change was made, as well as the substance of the change — one that is internally inconsistent and clearly conflicts with the plain language of the portion of the federal immigration law that touches on “extreme hardship”.
In the most recent example of twisted logic, the administration has announced that it will take at least 1,200 migrants — quite possibly more — who are now in detention camps on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, where they were sent by the Australian government after it interdicted and ejected them for attempting to enter Australia illegally (see here and here).
What’s in it for the Ozzies? At least some short-term relief from the unrelenting pressure they have felt over taking a tough stance on attempted illegal entry by migrants — a stance so tough that they have been talking about instituting a lifetime ban on all migrants who seek to enter by “irregular” means. They may even be puzzled by this bizarre gesture on the part of the administration, but unwilling to look a gift horse in the mouth. I suspect that in the long run, though, it may in fact be a Trojan Horse and redound against their interest because it permits both internal and external critics of the government’s tough stance to say, “Look! Even the United States, which is thousands of miles across the world from us is willing to take up the slack for Australia. What’s wrong with this picture?”
On the flip side, what’s in it for the United States? Nothing, as far as I can see. It’s not like we have to do this to fill our global commitments to refugee resettlement because somehow there just aren’t enough legitimate refugees already queued up on the rolls of the relevant U.N. and nongovernmental refugee agencies. It sounds more like something dreamed up by the administration’s friends in the open borders post-nationalist Soros Foundation (see here and here).
Of course, it is one last chance for the Obama administration to put its thumb in the eye of the American people as a final gesture of its profound contempt for a reasoned immigration policy based on our national interests; their own kind of pay-back to us for having the audacity to elect Donald Trump.