Spencer Hsu has a good article in the Washington Post that highlights the political schizophrenia that exists among the political class in this country with regard to illegal immigration. In the abstract, the majority of Americans demand that government crackdown on illegal immigration. In the concrete reality of such crackdowns, American communities and local economies can be gravely disrupted, producing inevitable outcries from local politicians.

Members of Congress cynically pass laws creating ever new restrictions on illegal immigration and setting up the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to enforce those laws, then turn around and criticize ICE for doing the job they established it to do.

On the campaign trail governors talk of the “broken” federal system that allows illegal immigrants to pour into the country but then condemn the Department of Homeland Security when raids occur in their home states. Others actively undermine immigration law by setting up sanctuary cities.

You’ll notice that most of criticism is safely leveled at ICE and DHS, where agents and employees simply try to carry out the job that they were sworn to do. Little self-reflection are accountability regarding the lack of leadership and political consensus-building occurs.

Mayors and governors seem unembarrassed to go after the federal government for a “broken” system while ignoring, in some cases, and nurturing in others, communities of illegal immigrants in their own jurisdictions. At the same time, they don’t have the political grit to openly call for looser immigration laws that would allow more immigrants to enter the country lawfully and to take jobs and build families without fear.

In a similar vein, Congress has become a satire of itself in regards to immigration, regularly exposing the hypocrisy of an institution that passes laws to “secure the border” and then failing to provide any level of adequate funding. (I am still surprised that the mainstream media have not written more extensively on the notion that ICE – or any other federal law enforcement agency – has the manpower or financial resources to carry out the frequent demands of politicians and elected officials who call for the wholesale deportation of illegal immigrants already living in America. Can it be done? Yes, but let’s not kid ourselves that it can be done with the 6,000 or so agents at ICE – most of whom are tasked with jobs involving a vast array of other responsibilities ranging from weapons and narcotics smuggling to financial crime. A massive tax hike and increase in funding will be required, something no politician wants to acknowledge.)

Hsu’s story exposes the typical hypocrisy:

“They don’t go after employers. They don’t put CEOs in jail,” complained the Postville Community Schools superintendent, David Strudthoff, 51, who said the sudden incarceration of more than 10 percent of the town’s population of 2,300 “is like a natural disaster — only this one is manmade.” … Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) said enforcement efforts against corporations that commit immigration violations have “plummeted” under the Bush administration. “Until we enforce our immigration laws equally against both employers and employees who break the law, we will continue to have a problem,” he said.

Perhaps Congressman Braley is unfamiliar with the E-Verify program, which targets employers, along with DHS’s plan to fine companies who are found to be in violation. Perhaps he is unaware of the government’s case against Tyson Foods, or the raids against Wal-Mart. Perhaps he is unaware of the fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is actually suing DHS to prevent these stringent new measures against CEOs and their companies.

More likely he doesn’t want to be bothered with such distractions. The idea that that arresting nearly 400 laborers from an agroprocessing plant would cripple the company doesn’t seem to enter his political calculations when he complains about the government not taking action against CEOs.

It’s really all beside the point. It appears that political posturing will take precedence over reform of one kind or another until the politicians feel safe enough to know how to vote. The issue itself isn’t all that difficult: We can either enforce the laws on the books or reform them. The politics behind it, though – that is another story. Admittedly, there is no easy vote on this one. But until we get leadership from our elected officials at both the state and federal levels, we’ll continue to get more of the same old hypocrisy.

Chris Battle founded Security Debrief as a forum for the homeland security community to discuss pressing issues and current debates in national security, counter-terrorism and law enforcement. After a long fight against kidney cancer, Chris passed in August 2013. Read More