Obama's "DREAM Act lite" executive order in June was only the latest and most dramatic attempt by the White House to limit deportations. Previously, Obama had directed immigration agents to use discretion in deportation proceedings – focusing only on hardened criminals.
But there is little evidence to suggest that immigration agents have listened. The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants in its first three years – 1.1 million – than any administration since the 1950s. Moreover, independent analysts combing through federal data have found it impossible to confirm whether the "criminals" the administration says it is deporting actually are actually criminals.
In a Republican presidential debate in January, Romney suggested that "self-deportation" is the ultimate solution. He described that as the point when "people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here. We’re not going to round them up.”
He has since departed from that terminology, but his speech at NALEO spoke of similar principles: tightening oversight of businesses and the border to make illegal immigration in the US a less-appealing option.
Mr. Gittleson sees this as a fundamental tenet of a potential Romney immigration strategy: greater emphasis on border security and the deportation of undocumented individuals, “probably with less discretion in terms of prioritizing criminal aliens."