Homeland Security officials say the border is more secure than ever, but the House Judiciary Committee wants to know why work-site enforcement has plummeted and whether hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens facing deportation will be granted amnesty.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will face these and other questions when she appears before the panel Wednesday morning, which follows on the heels of her contentious testimony before the Senate counterpart last week where she revealed that 396,906 illegal aliens were deported in the 2011 fiscal year.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R. –Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says the Obama administration inflated the numbers by including voluntary removals, a process he says will also make it easier for illegal immigrants to return to the U.S., illegally.
“In other words, the Obama administration is cooking the books to make it look like they are enforcing immigration laws, when in reality they are enacting amnesty through inaction,” Smith said.
“Even President Obama admitted to Hispanic voters that his administration’s deportation numbers are ‘deceptive,’” Smith said.
With 14 million people out of work and seven million illegal immigrants working in the U.S., Smith said millions of Americans could get those jobs if the nation’s immigration laws were enforced.
“It’s disappointing that the Obama administration continues to put illegal immigrants before the American people,” Smith said.
According to the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), fewer aliens are also being removed for violating immigration laws.
By shifting their priorities, Immigration Custom Enforcement mostly targets those aliens who have committed a crime other than being in the U.S. illegally, and that breaking immigration law is no longer the chief deportable offense, FAIR says.
In 2011, only 45% of illegal immigrants were deported for immigration violations, compared with 65% in 2009, FAIR said.
“The downward trend represents a new hands-off policy for most illegal aliens living in the U.S. and is a core component of this administration’s affirmative dismantling of most interior immigration enforcement,” said FAIR.
“The President should not be expecting a gold star for deporting criminal illegal aliens while giving those who are merely illegal aliens a free pass,” FAIR said in a statement. “As commander-in-chief, President Obama should be enforcing all immigration laws, not picking and choosing which are most politically advantageous.”
House Republicans are also expected to ask Napolitano about a report by the Government Accountability Office, which found that only 44% of the Southwest border is under the “operational control” of the Border Patrol.
Additionally, questions will focus on a working group established by Homeland Security for the purpose of overruling or preventing orders of removal for illegal immigrants.