|For Immediate Release
October 12, 2011
Contact: Jessica Baker, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Member Lamar Smith
Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
Oversight Hearing on: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Priorities and the Rule of Law
Chairman Smith: Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through criminal and civil enforcement of federal immigration laws. ICE is also tasked with enforcement of U.S. intellectual property laws. This Committee has jurisdiction over both.
While I appreciate ICE’s intellectual property efforts, this Administration doesn’t often take enforcement of ICE’s immigration laws seriously enough.
Congress has voted against amnesty for illegal immigrants several times in recent years. But this administration seems committed to backdoor amnesty through administrative action even if it can’t get Congressional approval.
Over the past year, the Obama administration intentionally allowed illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.
For example, the administration caved to pressure from liberal immigrant advocacy groups and announced “changes” to Secure Communities. This program keeps our neighborhoods safe by identifying illegal and criminal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted.
The changes made to Secure Communities open the door to allow illegal and criminal immigrants to avoid deportation.
Specifically, Director Morton issued two memos to agency officials about how to exercise blanket prosecutorial discretion when illegal immigrants are apprehended. Such authority is acceptable when exercised responsibly on a case-by-case basis. But administration officials are using this power in mass use and abusing this authority.
Two months ago the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced they will ensure that “appropriate discretionary consideration” be given to “compelling cases with final orders of removal.”
According to the administration, this review applies to 300,000 pending removal cases. This means close to 300,000 illegal immigrants could get to stay and work legally in the U.S. Why does the Administration continue to put the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of unemployed Americans?
The policies set forth in the ICE memos and DHS announcements claim to allow ICE to focus on immigration enforcement priorities. But that’s just a slick way of saying they don’t want to enforce immigration laws. ICE has shown little interest in actually deporting illegal immigrants who have not yet been convicted of what they call “serious” crimes.
With its memos and announcements, the Administration is sending an open invitation to millions of illegal immigrants. They know that if they come here illegally, they will be able to stay because immigration laws are not enforced.
Administration officials continue to brag about their “record deportation numbers.” But several sources, including the Washington Post, claim that the numbers are inflated. Even the President has stated that the numbers are “deceptive.”
The Obama administration has all but abandoned worksite-enforcement efforts. Over the past two years, worksite-enforcement efforts fell 70 percent. Their lack of enforcement allows illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that should go to unemployed American workers.
The administration claims they have increased the number of employer audits. But audits do little to discourage illegal hiring. And employers consider fines often just the cost of doing business.
Even when there is a worksite enforcement action, this administration rarely arrests the illegal workers. So the workers are free to go down the street to the next employer, and unemployed Americans lose out on their jobs.
While there have been successes in the area of intellectual property for ICE, the Obama administration is on the wrong side of the American people when it comes to enforcing immigration laws.
According to a recent poll, two-thirds of the American people want to see our immigration laws enforced. But the administration continues to put illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of unemployed Americans.