Add Immigration to Obama's Chosen Battles: The Ticker

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By Francis Wilkinson

Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney Andrew Lorenzen-Strait has been appointed the agency's first public advocate. In a Homeland Security blog post Tuesday, Lorenzen-Strait said he is now responsible for addressing "complaints and concerns" regarding ICE enforcement actions and will advise senior officials "on stakeholder findings, concerns, recommendations and priorities as they relate to improving immigration enforcement efforts and activities."

The appointment represents something of a peace offering to immigration groups and Hispanic activists, many of whom are upset over the Obama administration's record of deporting almost 800,000 illegal immigrants in the past two years. The move also elicited an outcry from the right, which may be just the reaction the White House wants. Republican Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the appointment of "a taxpayer-funded activist for illegal and criminal immigrants."

The White House has been picking some readily defined fights lately, as Sarah Kliff suggests in a post about the controversy over contraception funding.

Immigration advocates may have mixed feelings about Obama. But the White House is counting on them having no such ambivalence about the likes of Representative Smith -- and choosing sides accordingly.

(Francis Wilkinson is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)

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-0- Feb/08/2012 20:58 GMT