|For Immediate Release
June 24, 2011
Contact: Jessica Baker, (202) 225-3951
Smith: Changes to Secure Communities Contradict ICE’s Mission
Washington, D.C. – Last week, the Obama administration announced changes to Secure Communities, a program intended to identify illegal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted. These changes could potentially allow millions of illegal and criminal immigrants to remain in the United States. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) criticized the Obama administration for this misguided decision.
Chairman Smith: “Recent changes to the Secure Communities program prove the Obama administration is focused on the 2012 campaign rather than their duty to protect and serve the American people. Our Founding Fathers put Congress in charge of setting our immigration policy, but President Obama and his administration continue to circumvent Congress and use executive branch authority to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S.
“Just last week, political appointees at Immigration and Customs Enforcement – the agency that is supposed to remove illegal and criminal immigrants – announced changes to the Secure Communities program that contradict their mission. Agency officials have been told to use ‘prosecutorial discretion,’ which could potentially make millions of deportable illegal and criminal immigrants eligible for administrative amnesty.
“While this authority is justifiable when exercised responsibly, the Obama administration has made clear that it plans not to use but abuse these powers. That is why I will soon introduce legislation to prevent the Obama administration from abusing this authority. The Obama administration cannot continue to pick and choose which laws it will enforce. It is outrageous that they have put illegal immigrants and their liberal political base ahead of the American people.”
Background: Last week, John Morton, the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), issued a memo to agency officials on how to exercise “prosecutorial discretion,” such as granting deferred action, deciding whom to stop, question, arrest, or detain, and dismissing a removal proceeding.
While “prosecutorial discretion” is justified when exercised responsibly, the Obama Administration plans to recklessly use this power. The ICE memo ordered agency officials to consider factors such as:
ICE’s immigration enforcement priorities. However, ICE has expressed little interest in deporting illegal immigrants who have not yet been convicted of “serious” crimes.
The illegal immigrant’s pursuit of education in the United States. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that more than two million illegal immigrants would be eligible for amnesty under the DREAM Act.
Whether the illegal immigrant has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child or parent; or whether the illegal immigrant or their spouse is pregnant. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that illegal immigrants have four million U.S.-born and thus U.S. citizen children.
The illegal immigrant’s length of presence in the U.S. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that millions of illegal immigrants have been in the U.S. since the 1990s.