Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Obama's ICE Capades

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

With 48 hours to go until the sequester kicks in, the President is doing his best to make his doomsday threats a self-fulfilling prophecy. For two weeks, the White House has predicted the $85 billion in cuts would lead to everything from spoiled meat to criminals wandering the streets--and yesterday, his administration worked overtime to make the foreboding a reality. In detention centers across America, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released "several hundred" detainees from local jails to give some teeth to the President's foreshadowing.

Janet Napolitano, who oversees Homeland Security, claimed she was doing her "best to minimize the impacts of sequester." But, she shrugged, "there's only so much I can do. I'm supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration. How do I pay for those?" Republicans like Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) are shocked the Obama administration would use more fear tactics to score political points. It's "abhorrent," Goodlatte said--a sentiment echoed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who knows that there are other ways these savings could be "more safely and rationally achieved."

For its part, ICE insists that the strategy is low-risk, even as the agency plans to set as many as 10,000 more free. In Arizona, Sheriff Paul Babeu said 500 were discharged in his county alone. According to government spokesmen, liberating offenders is "less costly than detention." Unfortunately for one home schooling family, the government's goodwill has its limits. While Napolitano is discharging thousands of illegal immigrants, the Obama Justice Department seems unusually preoccupied with deporting a single German family. Apparently the administration believes Christians like Uwe and Hannelore Romeike pose a threat to national security.

For six years, the Romeikes have lived in a quiet Tennessee town, grateful for the asylum granted by the U.S. government. In Germany, where home schooling has been illegal since Hitler's time, the Romeikes objected to their children attending classes that violated their family's religious beliefs. Uwe and Hannelore started teaching their children at home until police appeared on their doorstep and escorted the kids to public school. Fearing imprisonment, the Romeikes fled to the U.S., where an immigration judge agreed to give them asylum in 2010. Since then, the U.S. government has fought the ruling in court, appealing the case all the way to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ironically, the same ICE that claims it doesn't have money for detention beds is spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to extradite a peaceful law-abiding family. Home schooling, ICE argues, is "not a fundamental right." But religious freedom is--and the Romeikes deserve that as much as anyone. "It's our right to decide how we want to teach our children," Uwe told reporters. Together with the Home School Legal Defense Fund, which is representing the family, he'll have a chance to prove that to the court. Let's hope it has a better grasp on religious persecution than this President's Justice Department.