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Immigration Reform News and Impact on US Homeland Security Sept 4, 2012

Written by Right Side News

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Chairman Smith: ICE Inflated Deportation Stats
California Legislature Adopts Bill Granting Driver's Licenses to Obama Amnesty Beneficiaries
California Sheriffs' Association Opposes Anti-Detainer Legislation

Chairman Smith: ICE Inflated Deportation Stats

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) claims that it is deporting illegal aliens at record numbers are false according to internal agency documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee. (See House Judiciary Committee Press Release, Aug. 24, 2012; see also Homeland Security Today, Aug. 27, 2012) Instead of outpacing the deportation numbers of previous administrations as President Obama claims, these ICE documents reveal that deportation levels since 2009 are actually down approximately 20 percent. (Id.)

As explained by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), this discrepancy is attributable to ICE's inclusion of Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) removals in the agency's deportation count. (Id.) Created in 2008, ATEP is an ongoing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that moves Mexican nationals apprehended in one Border Patrol Sector to another Sector before removing them to Mexico. (See Chief Michael Fisher of U.S. Border Patrol Testimony at p. 6 , Feb. 15, 2011)

The Committee's analysis of the internal documents reveal that ICE's claim that it has deported "record levels" of illegal aliens in the last two years are the direct result of its inclusion of the CBP's ATEP program removals into its totals. "Administration officials claim that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported a record number of illegal immigrants but the facts show that they have fabricated their deportation statistics by illegitimately adding over 100,000 removals to their deportation figures for the past two years," charged Chairman Smith. (House Judiciary Committee Press Release, Aug. 24, 2012)

According to the Committee's findings, the deportation totals would drop significantly if the ATEP figures were not included. The "2011 removal total would drop from approximately 397,000 to roughly 360,000 and the 2012 removal total would drop from about 334,000 to around 263,000 (annualized this is estimated to be a drop from about 400,000 to 315,000)," the press release states. Based on the Committee's analysis, ICE deportations for this year would be about 14% below 2008 and 19% below 2009 levels. (Id.)

In addition to using ATEP removals to inflate its deportation numbers, the Committee also uncovered an additional 40,000 unaccounted for deportations that ICE includes in its 2012 statistics. (Id.) These deportations are neither listed as individuals ICE has arrested, nor are they counted as ATEP removals. (Id.)

Chairman Smith rebuked ICE for inflating its deportation numbers. "It is dishonest to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border as ICE removals," the Chairman said.  "It seems like President Obama is trying to trick the American people into thinking he is enforcing our immigration laws...It's bad enough that the President has neglected to enforce our immigration laws but it's even worse that his Administration would distort statistics to deceive the American people," he concluded.  (Id.)

California Legislature Adopts Bill Granting Driver's Licenses to Obama Amnesty Beneficiaries

Last week, the California Senate and Assembly passed a measure that would allow illegal aliens who receive deferred action from the federal government to obtain California driver's licenses.   (See California AB 2189) The move stems from the Obama Administration's June announcement that it no longer intends to prosecute illegal aliens who meet the requirements of the DREAM Act, and will instead grant those aliens deferred action status.  (See Napolitano memorandum, June 15, 2012; FAIR Legislative Update, June 19, 2012)  Under the administration's new policy, as many as 1.76 million illegal aliens may be eligible for deferred action.  (Migration Policy Institute, Aug. 7, 2012; Pew Hispanic Center, Aug. 14, 2012)

AB 2189 appears to fly in the face of a 19-year old California law, which requires that all applicants for state driver's licenses provide evidence that their "presence in the United States is authorized under federal law."  (Cal. Veh. Code § 12801.5 (2012))  However, state lawmakers in essence nullified this law by simply adopting language that "[a]ny federal document demonstrating favorable action by the federal government for acceptance of a person into the deferred action for childhood arrivals program shall satisfy [this requirement]."  (AB 2189 §3)

This action taken by the California Legislature lies in stark contrast to that taken by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who issued an executive order two weeks ago clarifying that illegal aliens with deferred action are not eligible receive state benefits, including driver's licenses.  (See FAIR Legislative Update, Aug. 20, 2012) Other states continue to struggle with the chaos unleashed by the Obama Administration's new deferred action policy, and in particular determining if and under what circumstances illegal aliens with deferred action are eligible for state benefits.  Deferred action aliens qualify to receive work authorization from the federal government. (Napolitano memorandum, released June 15, 2012)

The next stop for AB 2189 is Governor Jerry Brown's desk.  Some legislators are confident that the Governor will sign the bill into law. (Reuters, Aug. 31, 2012)

California Sheriffs' Association Opposes Anti-Detainer Legislation

Last week, the California Sheriffs' Association came out in opposition to the California Legislature's recent passage of anti-detainer bill, AB 1081 . If signed into law, AB 1081 would prohibit state and local law enforcement agents from honoring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers unless an alien has been convicted of or is in custody for a serious or violent felony. (See AB 1081 at §2; see also FAIR Legislative Update , Aug. 27, 2012) "We are forcefully pushing for a veto," said Nick Warner, legislative director for the California State Sheriffs' Association. "The sheriffs of this state are actively, unalterably and vehemently opposed." ( New York Times , Aug. 28, 2012)

Several prominent California sheriffs have independently spoken out against the legislation, asserting that if it is signed into law they would be given the false choice between violating federal or state law. "It would make me break either federal or state law. I would have to pick which one to break," Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas lamented of the newly passed legislation. ( Los Angeles Times , Aug. 25, 2012) Los Angeles County Sheriff, Lee Baca, said his office would uphold federal law if the bill is signed. "Our stance is that federal law trumps state law. If it were to move forward, we'd adhere to federal law, so we'd still honor ICE holds," said his spokesman. (Id.) Marin County Sheriff Robert T. Doyle agreed, saying his "gut reaction would be to ignore" the anti-detainer act, saying "if someone comes to the county jail and he is not here lawfully, I think he should be turned over to [ICE]." ( New York Times , Aug. 28, 2012)

Under federal regulation, once ICE issues a detainer for an alien in state or local custody, jail officials must hold the alien for up to 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to allow ICE agents to pick them up. ( See 8 C.F.R. 287.7(d))

Not only does the bill contradict federal law, local governments risk losing federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) reimbursements if they do not detain aliens for ICE. In a letter to FAIR's Executive Director, ICE Director John Morton warned that jurisdictions with anti-detainer laws on the books — such as Cook County, Illinois and Santa Clara, California — may be denied "reimbursement to the state for costs of incarcerating criminal aliens under SCAAP." (Read the letter here ) Moreover, Director Morton noted that it is "fundamentally inconsistent" for jurisdictions that are "thwarting ICE's efforts to remove" criminal aliens to seek SCAAP reimbursements.

The State of California is the largest recipient of SCAAP reimbursements in the country. In Fiscal Year 2011, it received $96 million from the federal government to offset the costs of incarcerating criminal aliens. (See California State Association of Counties Fact Sheet , Feb. 27, 2012)

The California Assembly passed AB 1081 August 24, sending the bill to Governor Jerry Brown to sign into law. Unless the Governor vetoes the legislation, it will become law after 30 days. (See Cal. Const. Art. IV Sec. 10 )

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