December 1, 2014 | Issue Brief on Immigration
On November 20, President Barack Obama announced that, by executive order, he would grant deportation relief to roughly 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally. The following day, the President issued a memorandum announcing that he was establishing a White House Task Force on New Americans to integrate immigrants (he did not specify “legal”), refugees, and their children economically, civically, and linguistically into American life.
Since the memorandum states that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall provide funding and administrative support for the task force, the House Committee on Homeland Security should ask DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, who will testify at the committee’s December 2 hearing on the impact of the executive order, the following questions:
Will the task force envision assimilating immigrants and their children as individuals who will become members of the American nation, one of shared experiences? Or will the task force support the policies of the past four decades, under which immigrants are encouraged to see themselves not as Americans but as members of groups and, in the case of immigrants from Asia and Latin America, as members of aggrieved minorities lumped together by the federal bureaucracy as Asians and Hispanics? While “assimilation” does not appear in the memorandum, “integration,” “integrate,” or “integrating” appear 17 times. Does the Administration make a distinction?
The federal government also aggressively markets benefits programs to immigrants, despite promises to American taxpayers that immigrants will not be public charges. Additionally, government pressure on lenders to lower lending standards for minority borrowers—mandated by the Community Reinvestment Act and a practice that La Raza has actively promoted—contributed mightily to the 2008 recession and devastated immigrants, especially Hispanics.
President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has also pressured local communities to integrate by force, for example by cutting off federal funds to Westchester County in New York because HUD deemed the county’s integrationist practices insufficiently aggressive. Does the task force intend to continue these practices or even expand them?
This is partly the result of the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, which interprets the prohibitions against discrimination based on national origin as a mandate for schools to have special programs for English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students. The reality has not been a record of success. According to New York City’s own Department of Education, 36 percent of ESL students in 2010 had failed a yearly assessment for the previous seven years, and only 30 percent were able to graduate from the program within three years. Does Secretary Johnson envision the task force avoiding these mistakes?
President Obama has already overreached his executive authority by announcing that he would work around Congress and legalize the residency of millions of illegal immigrants. The memorandum he issued the following day, late on a Friday, has not received nearly as much attention but should be seen as a second act. Congress has a responsibility to question Secretary Johnson about the details of the task force’s agenda.
—Mike Gonzalez is a Senior Fellow in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation.
 News release, “Presidential Memorandum—Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees,” The White House, November 21, 2014, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/21/presidential-memorandum-creating-welcoming-communities-and-fully-integra (accessed November 26, 2014).
 Stephanie Hanes, “Immigration: Assimilation and the Measure of an American,” The Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 2013, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2013/0707/Immigration-Assimilation-and-the-measure-of-an-American (accessed November 26, 2014).
 Howard Palmer, “Mosaic versus Melting Pot: Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada and the United States,” International Journal, Summer 1976.
 Judicial Watch, “NCLR Funding Skyrockets After Obama Hires Its VP,” June 20, 2011, http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2011/06/nclr-funding-skyrockets-after-obama-hires-its-vp/ (accessed November 26, 2014).
 News release, “Remarks by the President to the National Council of La Raza,” The White House, July 25, 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/07/25/remarks-president-national-council-la-raza (accessed November 26, 2014).
 Judicial Watch, “NCLR Funding Skyrockets After Obama Hires Its VP.”
 Mike Gonzalez, A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans (New York: Crown Forum, 2014).
 Judicial Watch, “La Raza Group Teams up With Feds to Push Govt. Aid in Spanish,” July 8, 2011, http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2011/07/la-raza-group-teams-up-with-feds-to-push-govt-aid-in-spanish-2/ (accessed November 26, 2014).
 Phil Gramm, “Deregulation and the Financial Panic,” The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB123509667125829243 (accessed November 26, 2014).
 Ronal D. Utt, “HUD’s Mandatory Minority Relocation Program,” Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 3473, January 31, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/01/huds-mandatory-minority-relocation-program.
 Mike Gonzalez, “The Big Lie We Tell ‘English Learners,’” The New York Post, October 6, 2014, http://nypost.com/2014/10/06/the-big-lie-we-tell-english-learners/ (accessed November 26, 2014).