Attorney General Eric Holder is retiring and leaving behind an immigration system he helped put in ruins. No replacement has been announced. Although there is little reason to expect that his replacement will be committed to upholding immigration laws, it will be hard for anyone to be more antagonistic than Holder.
In 2009, Mr. Holder was sworn in to be the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. In practice, he was the chief dismantler of laws, notably immigration laws. During his tenure at the Department of Justice, Holder relentlessly undermined immigration enforcement through dubious interpretation of statutes, intimidation and dereliction of duties.
Mr. Holder gave President Obama what he needed: flimsy legal pretenses on how the administration could bypass the laws enacted by Congress using so-called prosecutorial discretion. Until Holder got to town, prosecutorial discretion had been regarded as the latitude afforded to judges to provide relief from deportation in rare and exceptional circumstances. The Attorney General interpreted it as a license to simply ignore laws and applied it broadly as a foundational tool used by the Obama administration to selectively choose which aliens, if any, would be removed and which laws it would enforce. Millions of illegal aliens are now being granted administrative stays of removal, deportations are dropping, and enforcement of the laws as Congress intended is disappearing faster than Lois Lerner’s emails.
Mr. Holder retooled the DOJ into a blunt instrument of intimidation to be used against states daring to defy the Obama administration’s non-enforcement agenda. Shortly after President Obama took office and weakened many immigration enforcement programs, Arizona put in place its own initiative (SB 1070) to help it combat the cost and impact of illegal immigration. Other states followed Arizona’s lead but, like Arizona, all faced the iron-fisted tactics of Holder’s DOJ which successfully squashed local efforts by suing or threating lawsuits.
FAIR’s comprehensive report, President Obama’s Record of Dismantling of Immigration Enforcement chronicles an aggressive, concentrated campaign by Mr. Holder in 2010-2012 to shut down all state action.
- March 2010: DOJ Threatens Employers Who Use E-Verify with Discrimination Investigation.
- July 2010: DOJ Files Suit to Stop Arizona’s SB 1070.
- August 2011: DOJ Files Suit to Stop Alabama’s HB 56.
- October 2011: DOJ Files Suit to Stop South Carolina’s S 20.
- November 2011: DOJ Files Suit to Stop Utah’s HB 497.
- May 2012: DOJ Sues Maricopa County.
- June 2012: DOJ Sues Florida over State’s Effort to End Illegal Alien Voting.
Holder’s efforts were successful; no state since has enacted broad immigration enforcement legislation, despite the escalating costs and other consequences of illegal immigration.
Finally, Mr. Holder neglected his duties of office by ignoring state and local violations of federal immigration laws. While he zealously brought to bear the full weight of the DOJ against states attempting to assist in the enforcement process – claiming that immigration enforcement is exclusively a federal function – he willfully ignored states that were implementing sanctuary policies which overtly ignore federal law.
Holder defended his negligence by saying, “There is a big difference between a state or locality saying they are not going to use their resources to enforce a federal law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a state passing its own immigration policy that actively interferes with federal law.” What Holder refused to admit is that the states were complementing federal law, not interfering with it. The truth of the matter is that the Attorney General of the United States did not like our immigration laws, and spent his tenure in office demolishing it.
His refusal to enforce the law did not go unnoticed by jurisdictions anxious to expand illegal alien benefits. Of 103 cities, towns and counties across 33 states that now have some form of sanctuary policies, the majority have occurred since Mr. Holder was appointed in 2009.
Eric Holder aided and abetted the systematic dismantling of America’s immigration laws and his legacy is defined by iron-fisted intimidation tactics, a disregard for right of states to protect the interests of their citizens, and an outright contempt for the constitutional authority of Congress.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out Mr. Holder.