How could anyone be surprised that Homeland Security is being less than forthcoming with the information on criminal alien removals requested by the House Judiciary Committee? Obama administration officials and DHS have repeatedly told us their strategy for dealing with illegal immigration, so it should not come as a shock when we discover that criminal aliens are being sorted according to their offenses. With Homeland Security suddenly asked to cough up some hard numbers, do officials finally realize how damning the results of their enforcement stance will be when presented to the public?
The scope of the illegal immigration problem is staggering, but Homeland Security insists that the agency needs to focus its resources on criminal immigrants (see: Another State Sued So Illegal Immigrants Can Thrive). An October 24, 2011 letter from DHS to the Judiciary Committee noted that ICE had “arrested or booked into custody 293,600 aliens” under the Secure Communities program by August 1, 2011. 126,705 were deported.1 This is 1.152% of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
Lauding “unprecedented results,” Janet Napolitano testified that 396,906 aliens were removed in fiscal year 2011.2 This is 3.61% of illegal immigrants if she did not include legal, deportable immigrants in her numbers. 216,698 of those deported were convicted criminals.3 This is 1.97% of illegal immigrants. If these numbers are unprecedented, we need to do a better job.
The Obama administration resorts to rogue action when Congress stands in the way of the president’s plans. The newest slogan in response to the failure of the Obama jobs bill is “We Can’t Wait on Congress: The Time to Act is Now.” The White House is doing exactly that with immigration, where legislative failures led to backdoor amnesty (see: Criminal Immigrant Policy is Non-Legislative Amnesty).
Administration officials have told us exactly how they feel about our immigration laws, and how they intend to enforce them:
So DHS, along with the Department of Justice, will be reviewing the current deportation caseload to clear out low-priority cases on a case-by-case basis and make more room to deport people who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk. And they will take steps to keep low-priority cases out of the deportation pipeline in the first place.4
Immigration violations topped the list of offenses in a watchdog agency study of 3 million criminal alien arrests, followed by drug offenses and traffic violations.5 Being in the country illegally is no longer considered a deportable offense. Instead, the president believes that breaking immigration laws should be rewarded with a fine and citizenship:
But what we’ve also said is, is that for those persons who are here, we have to make sure that we provide a pathway to earning a legal status in this country. They have broken the immigration laws, so they may have to pay a fine, learn English, take other steps.6
House Republicans are a big problem for Mr. Obama, because they won’t agree to amnesty:
So our biggest challenge right now — the vast majority of Democrats are supportive of comprehensive immigration reform, but given that the Republicans control the House of Representatives and that we need 60 votes in the Senate, our key approach is trying to push Republicans to get back to where they were only a few years ago. In the meantime, what we’re trying to do is to manage the enforcement of our inadequate immigration laws in a way that is humane and just.7
How do we go about being just and humane? The president talks about a crisis of dangerous immigrants, and about focusing resources, and uses it as an excuse to give a pass to everyone who is not a crook:
So we’ve tried to emphasize making sure that we’re focusing on violent criminals, people who are a threat to society and a threat to our communities, for deportation, and sending a clear signal that our enforcement priority is not to chase down young people who are going to school and who are following all the other laws and are trying to make a contribution to society.8
Whatever figures Homeland Security comes up with, an election is approaching, no immigration bill has been passed, and the administration is making sure that all non-legislative means possible are being used to spare illegal immigrants a trip back home. If Democrats were a little more flexible in their thinking, they could turn the criminal immigrant problem into a win. The president will never get his billions in infrastructure spending through Congress, but we have plenty of criminal immigrants sitting in jail or prison, chewing up taxpayer dollars they will never replenish. How about a jobs program for criminal aliens? They can work off their sentences rebuilding our roads, bridges, and schools. DHS and the White House can take credit for improving our infrastructure and creating jobs. The president can even toss citizenship into the bargain, and will always have a paid-for federal infrastructure force at his disposal. Illegal immigration and crime will probably go up in the rush to be a criminal American citizen, but given the enforcement numbers we are seeing, and the certainty that if illegals play their cards right, they can stay, that is going to happen anyway.