One of the primary objections to “comprehensive immigration reform” proposals is that President Obama can be trusted to comprehensively ignore any part of a grand bargain he finds inconvenient. ¬†That argument should be pretty much settled after the stunning news from Immigration and Customs Enforcement related by The Hill today:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year released 68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions, undercutting Democratic claims that President Obama has strictly enforced immigration laws.
An internal Department of Homeland Security document compiling statistics on arrests and deportations in 2013 showed that ICE agents encountered 193,357 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions but issued charging documents for only 125,478. More than 67,800 were released.
The data came from an end-of-year ‚??Weekly Departures and Detention Report.‚?Ě
The Center for Immigration Studies, a research group that favors stricter enforcement of immigration laws, estimates ICE agents released more than a third of illegal immigrants with criminal records they detained.
‚??ICE released 68,000 criminal aliens in 2013, or 35 percent of the criminal aliens encountered by officers. The vast majority of these releases occurred because of the Obama administration‚??s prosecutorial discretion policies,‚?Ě Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote in a memo summarizing the DHS document.
ICE classifies illegal immigrants as criminal if they have been convicted of a crime, not including traffic offense, Vaughn noted.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, blasted the administration‚??s record.
‚??The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that immigration enforcement in America has collapsed. Even those with criminal convictions are being released. DHS is a department in crisis,‚?Ě he said in a statement Sunday.
‚??Secretary Johnson must reject the president‚??s demands to weaken enforcement further and tell him that his duty, and his officers‚?? duty, is to enforce the law ‚??¬†not break it,‚?Ě he added in reference to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
How in the world can anyone possibly justify or defend this? ¬†It’s one thing to claim that effective enforcement of immigration law is logistically impossible – a highly disputed claim that usually begins with, “We can’t just round up every illegal alien family, stuff them in boxcars, and ship them back across the border!” ¬†This neatly avoids discussion of less dramatic enforcement methods that could prove effective, if given a fair chance. ¬†However, we’re all¬†supposedly¬†in agreement that illegals busted for other crimes should be prime candidates for deportation. ¬†Releasing 35 percent of them back onto the streets is sheer lunacy, and rather difficult to square with claims made by illegal immigration activists that Obama is some kind of deportation maniac.
The Center for Immigration Studies warns that the worst may be yet to come, because the White House has been making noise about weakening prosecution further as a bit of election-year pandering:
These findings raise further alarm over the Obama administration’s pending review of deportation practices, which reportedly may further expand the administration’s abuse of “prosecutorial discretion”. Interior enforcement activity has already declined 40 percent since the imposition of “prosecutorial discretion” policies in 2011.¬† Rather than accelerating this decline, there is an urgent need to review and reverse the public safety and fiscal harm cause by the president’s policies.
In addition to the headline-grabbing release of 68,000 criminal aliens, Immigration and Customs Enforcement also reports “there are more than 870,000 aliens on its docket who have been ordered removed, but who remain in defiance of the law.” ¬†So even when a deportation order is issued, it might not necessarily result in actual deportation. ¬†Somehow I suspect the Administration is not eager to mention that when it touts the number of deportations it has ordered.
Further puncturing Democrat talking points that portray Obama as Robocop, CIS observes that “ICE targeted 28 percent fewer aliens for deportation from the interior in 2013 than in 2012, despite sustained high numbers of encounters in the Criminal Alien and Secure Communities programs,” adding that “every ICe field office but one has reported a decline in interior enforcement activity.”
The Center for Immigration Studies gives us a look at the rules of engagement that put so many illegal aliens back on the streets:
For example, the prosecutorial discretion directives issued by ICE headquarters instruct officers to release illegal aliens if the alien is a parent or caregiver, if the alien claims to be in school, if the alien has been here a long time, or if the alien claims to be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, among other factors.¬† If an alien is found to have applied for legal status, protocol requires the deportation charges be put on hold, and the benefits application may be expedited, presumably to spare the alien the consequences a criminal conviction might have on the alien’s eligibility for the legal status.¬† In addition, ICE agents and officers have been instructed to ignore convictions for state crimes if the conviction occurred under a state law that the administration opposes or thinks is too harsh. Finally, many criminal aliens have been released from ICE custody, received case continuances, and sometimes even case dismissals as a result of petitions, protests, and vigils staged by illegal alien advocacy groups.
Suggestions for improving the situation are included. ¬†The fact that none of these ideas seems to have occurred to the Obama Administration gives you a good idea of where their true priorities lie:
Rather than scaling back interior enforcement, the appropriate response for ICE to address the enormous size of its caseload, including the large number of criminal aliens who should be removed, is to become more efficient, not less productive. ICE should expand use of the accelerated forms of removal, such as expedited removal, stipulated removal, and judicial orders of removal.¬† Rather than relying primarily on enforcement, ICE and other DHS agencies should seek to improve compliance with visa program rules and laws against illegal hiring to reduce incentives for illegal settlement. ICE should promote partnerships, such as 287(g), that allow local governments to assist in enforcement using local resources ‚?? this is a fiscal no-brainer for ICE. The federal government should challenge sanctuary jurisdictions that obstruct immigration enforcement and make ICE’s job harder. For all its complaints about limited resources, the administration has actually expended considerable resources in the other direction: targeting states that try to support federal law enforcement, while increasing the amount of red tape for its own officers.
Speaking of “fiscal no-brainers,” the Administration keeps asking for¬†less¬†money to fund ICE detention facilities, even as they’re releasing tens of thousands of detainees to alleviate overcrowding.
ICE officials evidently are not eager to comment on this report, but its author, former State Department foreign service officer Jessica Vaughan, discussed it with The Blaze. ¬†“I think it’s important for the public to understand that ICE is¬†able to identify more criminal aliens than ever before and yet they‚??re not allowed to uphold their sworn oath to uphold the laws because of the policies put in place by this administration to deliberately suppress immigration law enforcement,” Vaughan alleged. ¬†“The result is that not only are illegal immigrants not being detoured from settling here but once they get here, even if they have shown that they‚??re a threat to the public by committing crimes [the administration] ignores it and they are sent back into our communities.”
To give you an idea of what sort of criminals they’re releasing, Vaughan mentioned an illegal alien charged with 42 counts of predatory sexual acts on children. ¬†He was released from ICE custody wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, found a way to remove it, blew off his hearings, and disappeared.
The hazy status of immigration makes a mockery of both citizenship and the rule of law. ¬†At the moment, immigration is more like a set of strong suggestions than a body of laws. ¬†If we’re not going to take these laws seriously, we should remove them from the books and throw the border open – at least then Americans would have a clear idea of where the Ruling Class stands, instead of finding out the hard way, when the guy with 42 counts of preying on children pops up in their neighborhood. ¬†If we¬†are¬†still serious about citizenship and the rule of law, it’s long past time to accept that laws are meaningless without enforcement, and enforcement demands resources.
Obviously, the people who want to remodel the American workforce and electorate through mass illegal immigration have other things they’d like to do with those resources. ¬†Pretending to trust them as honest champions of the law is foolish, as is the notion of striking grand bargains of amnesty for enforcement with them. ¬†We shouldn’t have to cut deals with the Ruling Class and pay them political bribes to secure enforcement of the law, and as we can see from this ICE report, it wouldn’t work anyway. ¬†At the very least, let’s agree to clean up the most absurd abuses of the system and install a more trustworthy President before we talk about any “comprehensive” reform packages. ¬†As it stands, we’re not even remotely talking about the same thing when we use words like “immigration” and “enforcement.”