John Mitchell, Richard Nixon's attorney general (and Watergate felon), said: "Watch what we do, not what we say". We all know what the Obama administration says about using "prosecutorial discretion" to avoid deporting non-criminal immigrants.
But we also know what the Obama administration is doing. An article in the National Journal dated October 18, four months after the John Morton memo, starts with the headline: "White House Immigration Message: We're Tough", and continues:
"It is no accident the Obama administration is touting a record number of deportations for the second year in a row. If Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has one immigration-related mission, it is to remind people as often and as firmly as possible that the United States is tougher than ever on illegal immigration."
It is interesting that, even though this news story appeared only about a month ago, it did not even mention the Morton memo, let alone the "clarification" " implementation" "training" or "deportation case review" memos which have appeared since.
The DHS still intends to deport 400,000 people each year. Only the mix of people deported might (possibly) change to focus (perhaps slightly more) on deporting serious criminals. But ICE has been saying that this was its focus almost from the time that Obama took office, at least on its website.
Meanwhile Napolitano continues to defend "Secure Communities", which is structured to drag in people pulled over for traffic violations or other minor charges. "Watch what we do, not what we say." John Mitchell's spirit lives on.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.