Don’t you love the six months preceding an election? Members of Congress behave like well mannered little lambs who want only to do the bidding of their voting constituents, even on issues like immigration where elites stand in opposition to the desire of the people that our borders and workplaces be protected from foreign lawbreakers.
Take Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. In March, he was schmoozing for dollars among the billionaires of Silicon Valley who want open borders for cheapo tech workers. Last year he spoke in favor of “legalization” (aka amnesty) for illegal aliens on Telemundo Spanish language TV.
Nevertheless, at Thursday’s hearing, Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Goodlatte spoke like a true friend of immigration enforcement.
Ain’t Washington wonderful?!
Here is the Chairman’s opening statement prior to questioning newish DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson:
The written version was included on the hearing web page:
Chairman Goodlatte: Good morning to everyone and I want to extend our welcome to Secretary Johnson for testifying before us today for the first time.
The Obama Administration has taken unprecedented, and most likely unconstitutional, steps in order to shut down the enforcement of our immigration laws for millions of unlawful and criminal aliens not considered high enough “priorities.”
DHS does this under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.” The beneficiaries include many thousands of aliens who have been arrested by state and local law enforcement or convicted criminals who have been put in removal proceedings and who DHS simply has let back onto our streets.
In addition to simply not pursuing removable aliens, DHS has been granting hundreds of thousands of them administrative legalization and work authorization. DHS does this under many guises, invoking doctrines with esoteric names such as “deferred action” and “parole-in-place.
The net effect of these policies has been described by former ICE Acting Director John Sandweg — “If you are a run-of-the mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero . . . .”
Over the past few years, ICE had been claiming to have removed record numbers of unlawful or criminal aliens from the United States. Of course, to the extent these numbers are valid, they would have simply reflected the vast increase in enforcement resources provided by Congress in recent years. ICE’s budget had increased from approximately $3 billion in 2005 to $5.8 billion in 2013.
However, ICE’s removal numbers simply rely on smoke and mirrors. In fact, almost two-thirds of the removals claimed by ICE in 2013 involved aliens apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border or intercepted by inspectors at ports-of-entry. When we look at the number of true ICE removals of aliens residing in the U.S., we see that they have fallen 43% from 2008 to 2013. Even President Obama has admitted that ICE’s “record” removals are “deceptive.”
Removals are down so dramatically because the Obama Administration is twisting the concept of “prosecutorial discretion” beyond all constitutional recognition – all in an unprecedented effort to create immigration enforcement-free zones.
Most disturbingly, despite the Administration’s pledge to prioritize the removal of serious criminal aliens, DHS is releasing thousands of such aliens onto our streets. The Judiciary Committee discovered through subpoena that between October 2008 and July 2011, DHS declined to seek removal for almost 160,000 aliens who had been arrested by state and local law enforcement officers. After these aliens were then released into our communities, about 17% were rearrested on criminal charges within only three years’ time. The crimes charged included nearly 8,500 DUI’s, over 6,000 drug violations, and more than 4,000 major criminal offenses including murder, assault, battery, rape, and kidnapping. In one of the most horrific cases, an unlawful alien DHS decided not to pursue after being arrested for attempted grand theft was later arrested on suspicion of killing a man chasing those who had robbed his 68-year-old grandfather.
These crimes never would have been committed had DHS pursued these aliens for removal. Unfortunately, none of this has shamed DHS into changing its irresponsible practices. The Center for Immigration Studies recently obtained ICE documents revealing that in 2013, ICE declined to pursue removal thousands of times against convicted criminals it had encountered. And CIS also discovered that in 2013, ICE released from detention over 36,000 convicted criminal aliens that it had actually put in removal proceedings.
I have asked DHS for identifying information on these released criminal aliens so that we may determine what new crimes they have gone on to commit. I hope and expect that Secretary Johnson will fully cooperate in providing this vital information to the Committee and the American people.
The end result of DHS’s practices is that the American people have lost all confidence in this Administration’s willingness to enforce our current immigration laws or use any enhanced enforcement tools that Congress may give it. This in turn has made it exceedingly difficult for Congress to fix our broken immigration system.
Unfortunately, we can only expect DHS’s efforts to evade its immigration law enforcement responsibilities to escalate. President Obama has asked Secretary Johnson to “perform” an inventory of the Department’s current enforcement practices to see how it can conduct them more “humanely.”
These are simply code words for further ratcheting down enforcement of our immigration laws. We do not know yet how far Secretary Johnson will go. Persons within and without the Administration have pressured him to no longer seek to remove previously deported aliens who have illegally reentered the U.S or aliens who have absconded from their removal proceedings and become fugitives. Some have demanded that DHS grant administrative legalization to parents who endangered their children’s lives by bringing them here illegally in perilous journeys. Others have gone so far as to demand administrative legalization for the entire universe of millions of unlawful aliens who would receive a special pathway to citizenship under the Senate’s massive comprehensive immigration bill.
Secretary Johnson is not responsible for the dangerous and irresponsible decisions made by DHS before he was sworn in last December. We can only hope that he will bring back a level of adult responsibility to the enforcement of our immigration laws. But his recent comments that he is considering scaling back one of DHS’s most successful programs to identify and remove dangerous aliens – Secure Communities – cause me grave concern for the future of immigration enforcement.
I look forward to the testimony of Secretary Johnson.