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Immigration Reform News and Impact on US Homeland Security October 9, 2012

Written by Right Side News

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Right Side News reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform on:
1. Romney to Honor Obama's Backdoor Amnesty Program, But Won't Issue New Reprieves
2. LAPD Chief to Ignore Immigration Detainers
3. Grassley, Smith Push Obama Administration for Answers on Deferred Action

Romney to Honor Obama's Backdoor Amnesty Program, But Won't Issue New Reprievesbald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1

In an interview with the Denver Post last week, GOP presidential hopeful Governor Mitt Romney stated that if elected, he would honor President Barack Obama's decision to grant deferred action to illegal aliens under the age of 31 who meet the qualifications of the DREAM Act. (Denver Post, Oct. 1, 2012)

However, in the process of establishing his position on this backdoor amnesty program — referred to by the Administration as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — Governor Romney demonstrated a lack of understanding of the amnesty program itself.  At first, Romney said that he would not take away visas from illegal aliens who have purchased them. "The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," he said. (Id.) Later realizing that the Obama Administration has not granted visas to these illegal aliens, Romney clarified his position by stating he would honor the "deportation exemptions" given to illegal aliens under Obama's Administration, but if elected he would discontinue the backdoor amnesty and not grant any new amnesties under the program.  (Boston Globe, Oct. 2, 2012)

Gov. Romney's first statement erroneously equated the quasi-legal status bestowed upon illegal aliens by the Administration, called deferred action, to a visa.  (See Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children, June 15, 2012)However, deferred action is what DHS grants when it decides, in its own discretion, not to remove an illegal alien. Those who receive deferred action usually also receive work authorization. There is no statutory basis for deferred action status, as it is merely referred to in the federal regulations; and, even more troubling, deferred action is not subject to judicial review. (See 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(c)(14); see also Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Comm., 525 U.S. 471, 484, 492 (1999))

In addition to Gov. Romney's promise that he would not remove the deferred action status given to illegal aliens under the current Administration, he also vowed to have his own immigration reform plan in place before the illegal aliens' two-year deferment period is up.  "I actually will propose a piece of legislation which will reform our immigration system to improve legal immigration so people don't have to hire lawyers to figure out how to get here legally," Romney said. (Denver Post, Oct. 1, 2012)

President Obama's campaign responded by calling Governor Romney's position extreme.  "Mitt Romney has made it clear: He would not continue the administration's policy that provides temporary reprieve from deportation for young people who were brought here through no fault of their own," said Gabriela Domenzain, the Obama campaign's director of Hispanic press. "This is unacceptable and just another example of how he is the most extreme presidential candidate on immigration in modern history." (Boston Globe, Oct. 2, 2012; see also Politico, Oct. 2, 2012)

LAPD Chief to Ignore Immigration Detainers

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Charlie Beck announced Thursday he hopes to stop LAPD officers from honoring requests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transfer custody of illegal aliens arrested for "low-level" crimes so that they may be deported. (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 4, 2012; see also FAIR Blog, Oct. 5, 2012)

The proposal comes just days after California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 1081 (called the TRUST Act by supporters), legislation that would have prohibited law enforcement state-wide from honoring ICE detainers unless the 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, Oct. 2, 2012)

But despite Governor Brown's veto of AB 1081, Police Chief Beck intends to implement the legislation locally.  According to Chief Beck, honoring such detainers erodes the public trust of law enforcement among Hispanic communities. "It strikes me as somebody who runs a police department that is 45% Hispanic and polices a city that is at least that, that we need to build trust in these communities and we need to build cooperation or we won't be prepared," Beck said. (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 4, 2012) "So it's my intent, by issuing this change in procedures, that we gain this trust back," he continued. (New York Times, Oct. 4, 2012)

Chief Beck stated that, pursuant to his plan, the LAPD plans to create a list of offenses for which illegal aliens will be released back onto the streets instead of being transferred to federal custody.  (Id.) The police commission, a civilian board, must then approve the policy shift before it can take effect. (Id.)

Grassley, Smith Push Obama Administration for Answers on Deferred Action

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) teamed up last week to demand answers from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano regarding the Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program announced June 15. (Read letter here; see USCIS DACA Website) In the October 2nd letter, the Members state, "We remain concerned about the lack of detail provided to Congress….Because this is a discretionary decision not to pursue enforcement against a person for a specified period of time, we would ask the Department [DHS] to be transparent and forthcoming about the details, criteria and process of the deferred action directive." (Id.)

In particular, the Grassley and Smith letter expresses serious concern about the integrity of the program.  It sets forth ten questions asking what forms of documentation the applicants are required to show, and what level of background check DHS will conduct on them. (Id.) Some of the inquiries include:

The letter is particularly powerful as Sen. Grassley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  Using their authority, they demanded answers to these questions by Oct. 12, 2012.

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