Newly-inaugurated governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey has gone off the deep end.
Proof ironically comes from an Obama-era program. A June, 2012 memorandum from Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano set forth the rationale for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by "the exercise of our prosecutorial discretion."
DACA did not establish "amnesty" for the children who arrived in the USA under the age of sixteen. and were on that date under the age of 31. They were required to have"continuously resided" in the country since 6/15/07 and been currently in school, a graduate of high school or possessor of a GED, or an honorably discharged veteran.
And criminals need not apply. Napolitano wisely required the indiviudal not to have "been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offfense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety."
On January 17 MSNBC's Chuck Todd (transcript here; relevant portion of the video at 3:20) asked Murphy about the Office of Immigrant Defensive Protection which the governor wishes to create. The New Jersey Democrat responded
Before Donald Trump got elected, we spoke about driver`s licenses for everybody regardless of status, statewide identification cards, instate tuition or financial aid for “dreamers,” then Donald Trump gets elected. And we still stand for all those.
The state of New Jersey is in a fiscal crisis, exacerbated by the disastrous eight-year reign of Chris Christie. Its public pension debt (and property tax burden) are the greatest in the nation, the latter driving residents (especially the elderly) to move out-of-state.
In response, Phil Murphy wants to give a break in tuition to immigrants who are not citizens and under current policy, will not be citizens. They would pay lower tuition in New Jersey state schools than residents in towns in Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New York State bordering New Jersey.
Murphy also would like "driver's licenses for everybody regardless of status," which evidently would include illegal immigrants. He might want to be reminded that one Hillary R. Clinton, who in 2007 was on the fast track for the Democratic nomination for President. She was riding high before she ran into a roadblock, courtesy of rival Chris Dodd:
Had the late Tim Russert never asked this question, it is very likely Senator Barack Obama never would have been nominated and become President Obama.
Murphy's other immigration proposal contrasts with the DACA policy established in 2012. Todd asked him "among this (illegal immigrant) population), what should be enough to get you deported? If you were brought here, what should be enough to get you deported." Murphy replied
I think what we`ve done and the president has done this, it was done in our campaign, we`ve crossed the wires between criminal justice and law enforcement on the one hand and immigrant status on the other hand. There is nothing inconsistent.
In fact, I think they add to each other with being really tough on law enforcement but being a welcoming state and community that people could come out of the shadows and feel free to engage with police and other community leaders. If you commit a crime, you ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Remarkably, Murphy's only concession to law enforcement was "if you commit a crime, you ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," which means..... nothing.
No politician ever would recommend someone not be "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." But he says nothing about what the law should be. Nor does he indicate whether once someone is prosecuted and convicted, he or she should be deported or instead allowed to remain in the state.
It's not hard to figure out why. DACA required the individual not be a felon or repeated misemeanant. Murphy would require no such thing, though he was by the question invited to concede that breaking the law would be a deal-breaker. Obeying the law should be a minimum, as the Obama Administration understood.
The governor of New Jersey would be more humane to both immigrants and non-immigrants were he to ensure that all residents, legal or illegal, receive basic human services, or better.
But citizenship, or the effort to obtain it, means something. Certain benefits, including access to a driver's license, in-state tuitiion, and protection against deportation should be conveyed to persons exclusive of those who are here (illegally or as Dreamers) who are precluded from being citizens. If Murphy attempts to follow through on the agenda he laid out to Todd, the Governor will be courting trouble both for himself and Democrats in New Jersey.