There is a remarkable similarity between the approaches that President Obama and Newt Gingrich are taking in order to try to gain Latino votes. Obama has his "prosecutorial discretion" memo and Gingrich has his "community boards" plan. Each one would give unelected officials, not bound by any administratively or judicially enforceable standards, final power over whom to select for deportation and who would be allowed to stay. 


The vague guidelines in both plans are similar. Both, ostensibly, would give weight to the amount of time that someone has been in the US and to the person's ties in the community. However, just as there has been a wide variation in the use of prosecutorial discretion among deportation officers under Obama's plan, there would undoubtedly be the same arbitrary, unpredictable and varying use of discretion under Gingrich's proposal. The main difference is that, in all probablility, far fewer people would be able to meet the strict residence and financial standards required in Gingrich's proposal in order to be considered at all.


But is either proposal really a serious attempt to slow the mad rush toward mass deportation of millions of people who pose no danger to our society and are making contributions to our economy, or are both of these plans just smoke and mirrors to gain Latino votes next year?


It is also interesting to note that while the Republicans vigorously, and in some instances even violently, opposed the nonexistent "death panels" in President Obama's health care law, Newt Gingrich's supporters, at least, seem to have no problem with the idea of "deportation panels". One hopes that when discussing these plans, we are not talking (to use Freud's famous phrase) about the future of an illusion. If this illusion has a future, it may be a short one - until November, 2012.