The new report this past week about the Obama administration’s release of 68,000 criminal aliens in 2013 – 35 percent of the criminals they had in custody – is only the latest example of broken promises on immigration enforcement. Such stories have become so routine that we are no longer surprised when we learn the government has been lying to us.

Would anyone enter into a marriage with someone who declared in advance they don’t believe in marriage? Yet, we continue to waste time debating the kind of border security we need while the nation’s gatekeepers declare their contempt for all immigration laws.

Ten years ago, when President George Bush first unveiled his plan for a new amnesty for illegal aliens, the main debate was over the details of the plan – what kind of border security “triggers” would be sufficient to permit legalization to go forward, what kind of background checks would be required, and so forth. Today, the debate is all about trust.

No one trusts the Obama administration to adequately implement the features of any plan adopted by Congress. He will follow his own ideas and change the law by executive decree as he sees fit.

The amnesty debate has become a casualty of government’s lost credibility. Everyone knows the details and text of a legislative proposal do not really matter – because they will never be enforced anyway. The provisions, safeguards, definitions and “triggers” in any amnesty bill will just be more lies in an long series of broken promises.

How can government repair this loss of trust and credibility? The simple answer is that it can’t as long as Barack Obama sits in the White House. That’s the obvious reason why congressional Republicans should not try to negotiate with Obama or Harry Reid on immigration reform. They can’t be trusted.

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But the problem of governmental duplicity on immigration enforcement goes deeper than Obama’s imperial behavior, and it predates his arrival by decades. Obama is not the first president to break a promise on immigration enforcement.

Republicans and conservatives need to recognize that the string of broken promises began with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which is to say, it began under Ronald Reagan and the lax enforcement of the terms of the 1986 amnesty legislation.

Retired former ICE officers will tell you in graphic detail how the rules for verifying the documents required to earn amnesty under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) were discarded in the bureaucratic push to enroll every applicant.

When IRCA was being written and debated in Congress, legislators relied on a government task force report that predicted that up to 1.6 million illegal aliens might qualify for the amnesty. By 1990, that number turned out to be 3.2 million. A “fudge factor” of 100 percent would get you fired in the private sector, but in the federal government, it’s acceptable. That experience is only one reason no one outside of kindergarten believes only 12 million would apply for the next amnesty.

Dishonesty begins with the numbers but does not end there. It extends to every element of immigration enforcement and includes playing games with the definition of “border apprehensions,” “removals” and “deportations.” The head of the Department of Homeland Security admitted in testimony before Congress a week ago that they had counted as deportations the nearly half-million “border turnarounds” that in past years were never included in the deportation numbers.

A prime example of deliberately misleading and downright dishonest use of language is the frequent promise that in the next amnesty, illegal aliens will “go to the back of the line” when applying for citizenship. That is such a dishonest pledge it is laughable.

To be meaningful, amnesty applicants would have to be placed at the back of a line that already has millions of applicants in over 100 countries around the world – and not just for citizenship but for the application for legal status as well. If any amnesty bill ever does get adopted, the “back of the line” provision must require that not one amnesty application will be processed until the present 10-year backlog in our foreign embassies has been eliminated.

This kind of mendacity and dishonesty is not limited to the DHS bureaucracy; it permeates the congressional debate and the public discussions as well. Millions of citizens understand this, which is why the amnesty “debate” is at a dead end. The public’s opposition to amnesty is now so strong that amnesty proponents must resort to chicanery and secret backroom deals.

There can be no “deal” or “solution” to the illegal immigration problem as long as evasion and dishonesty are the accepted language of the debate. There can be no trust that a new immigration law will be fairly enforced until government demonstrates it is willing and able to enforce current law.

Media wishing to interview Tom Tancredo, please contact [email protected].

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