|For Immediate Release
July 5, 2011
Contact: Jessica Baker, (202) 225-3951
Smith and Aderholt to Administration: Stop Administrative Amnesty
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) sent a letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano urging the Obama administration to stop any current or planned actions that would use executive branch authority to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.
The letter follows recent changes made by the Obama administration to Secure Communities, a program intended to identify illegal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted. The Obama administration’s changes to Secure Communities could open the door to allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.
Below are excerpts from the letter.
“We are concerned that the Obama administration continues to circumvent Congress and use executive branch authority to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. Our concerns have risen to a new level based on the recent issuance of two memos by the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) … Because the decisions of such magnitude must only be made by Congress, we urge you in the strongest terms to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) halt any current or planned administrative actions that will result in mass legalization of illegal immigrants and that imply immigration law should not be fully enforced.
“These memos represent a grossly irresponsible expansion of the use of prosecutorial discretion for the apparent purpose of administrative amnesty. Ultimately, these memos could potentially make millions of deportable illegal and criminal immigrants eligible for administrative amnesty.
“We are also concerned that DHS continues to use the excuse of ‘limited resources’ as a justification for its flagrant disregard of the law. The Congress has consistently provided every dollar requested since ICE’s creation for immigration enforcement efforts … We request that ICE utilize the extensive resources available to rigorously enforce the immigration laws of the United States and that ICE’s future budget requests include the funds necessary to effectively support the men and women of ICE in executing their critical mission.”
Background: Two weeks ago, the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), issued two memos 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 use this power liberally. 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.
Prior to these memos, last year the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services disseminated a memo written by top political and career agency officials. The memo suggested that DHS take steps to legalize literally millions of illegal immigrants. For instance, the memo indicated that DHS could “grant deferred action to an unrestricted number of unlawfully present individuals” and suggested that it grant deferred action to illegal immigrants “who would be eligible for relief under the DREAM Act” or those who have lived in the U.S. since some particular date.
PDF Letter Text: Letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano