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Immigration Reform News October 14, 2015

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  • Deportations Plummet Under Obama
  • Hillary Clinton Renews Pledge to Outdo Obama’s Executive Amnesty
  • McCarthy Abruptly Drops Out of Speaker Race
  • Sheriffs Hold Press Conference on Release of Criminal Aliens by Feds

Immigration Reform News 

Deportations Plummet Under Obama

According to internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents obtained by the Associated Press, during FY2015 the Obama administration deported the lowest number of illegal aliens since 2006. Between October 1, 2014 and September 28, 2015, DHS removed only 231,000 illegal aliens from the country, which corresponds to a 42 percent decline since 2012. (Associated Press, Oct. 6, 2015) Notably, DHS also deported fewer criminal aliens (136,700) despite the Obama administration’s pledge to prioritize the removal of criminal aliens. (Id.)

Unsurprisingly, the plummeting of removals corresponds with the implementation of the “Priorities Enforcement Program” (PEP). A component of the November 2014 executive actions on immigration, President Obama replaced the effective Secure Communities with PEP, which significantly reduced the scope of illegal aliens the administration was willing to deport. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2014) Indeed, the Migration Policy Institute calculated that the November 2014 executive actions would exempt 87 percent of illegal aliens from removal. (See FAIR Legislative Update, July 28, 2015)

Predictably, the Obama administration downplayed the numbers. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said the agency “has refined its priorities to improve the quality of its removals by focusing on the most serious public safety and national security threats as well as recent border crossers.” (Id.) She continued, “As a result, overall removals may show a decline, consistent with a substantial drop in overall apprehension, among other factors.” (Id.)

Yet, the raw data contradict these claims as illegal aliens commit crimes at a disproportionally high rate in relation to their share of the population. While illegal aliens make up 3.5 percent of the population, they account for 12 percent of murder sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping sentences, and 16 percent of drug trafficking sentences. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 22, 2015)

Hillary Clinton Renews Pledge to Outdo Obama’s Executive Amnesty

Back in May, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised a group of amnesty activists in Las Vegas that she would outdo President Obama’s executive amnesties, and last week in an interview with Telemundo she reiterated her pledge. (FAIR Legislative Update, May 12, 2015; Telemundo.com, Oct. 6, 2015) As before, she generally refrained from specifics about which illegal aliens would be the beneficiaries of her executive amnesty, but she promised to take action in her first 100 days in office. (Id.) Though she already had pledged to go further than President Obama had in granting amnesty to a larger population of illegal aliens, in this interview, she even suggested that President Obama’s policies had been overly harsh to the illegal alien population. (Id.)

In response to Telemundo interviewer Maria Celeste Arraras’s request to be “very specific” about “how far is further” in implementing executive amnesty, Clinton remained vague. Indeed, Clinton merely said “on an individual basis” she would “put more resources and personnel into the system” to grant amnesty to “as many people as possible.” (Id.) However, she later suggested that she thought President Obama had deported too many “upright, productive” people for “minor” offenses like drunk driving. (Id.) When Arraras pressed her on whether President Obama had failed to do “as much as he legally could,” she responded that she would “look for every legal way” not to “intimidate and terrify hard working immigration families.” (Id.) In her administration, she claimed, illegal aliens would know “they will not have to worry about a knock on the door or a raid on their workplace.” (Id.) (In fact, President Obama ended worksite raids in the first three months of his administration. (See FAIR Press Release, Apr. 1, 2009))

At times during the interview, Clinton’s attempts to paint President Obama as insufficiently solicitous of the welfare of illegal aliens became awkward. For instance, she immediately backpedaled on the implication that President Obama had intimidated and terrified illegal aliens, saying “I think he’s done a lot [to advance amnesty].” (Telemundo.com, Oct. 6, 2015) However, she still claimed that he had, as a “strategy” to get Republicans to support amnesty, “interpreted and enforced” the immigration laws “very aggressively.” (Id.) Because that strategy was “no longer workable,” she wanted “to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.” (Id.)

The “strategy” that Clinton was likely referring to is the widely publicized claim that the Obama administration was carrying out “record deportations” at the end of his first term and the beginning of his second term. However, in fact, that claim has been refuted as merely smoke and mirrors. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 6, 2013) In reality, the administration had simply directed the U.S. Border Patrol to bring routine border apprehensions to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) centers for processing so that such apprehensions could be counted as removals by ICE (rather than turnbacks by the Border Patrol). (Id.) This process—which was not followed by any of Obama’s predecessors—substantially padded the publicized removal numbers, allowing the administration to claim deportations were at a record high when removals from the interior had actually fallen. (Id.) Now, however, with the prospect of legislative amnesty dim, even those padded numbers have dramatically fallen. (Associated Press, Oct. 6, 2015) This dramatic drop only further highlights the incongruity of Clinton’s insistence President Obama has been too harsh.

Clinton may in fact be eager to distinguish herself as more aggressive in granting amnesty as President Obama because in the past she has been inconsistent on the issue. (See FAIR Legislative Update, May 12, 2015) Though last week she repeated her story from May that her stance on immigration is a result of knowing migrant workers from church as a young girl, in 2003, she described herself as “adamantly against illegal immigrants.” (Id.; Telemundo.com, Oct. 6, 2015)

McCarthy Abruptly Drops Out of Speaker Race

In an unsuspected turn of events, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) abandoned his bid for House Speaker on Thursday, just minutes before a planned closed party nomination election was about to begin. (Politico, Oct. 8, 2015) McCarthy, the current number two in House leadership, has long been viewed as the most likely successor to outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who announced last month that he would resign at the end of October. (Id.) Boehner has indicated that he will remain speaker until a new successor is chosen, however long that may be. (Id.) House Republicans are currently floating the names of new candidates and have yet to decide on a new date for elections. (Id.)

From an immigration standpoint, there is little difference between McCarthy and Boehner, who leaves a disappointing record on immigration. McCarthy is on record backing amnesty for the bulk of the nation’s illegal aliens, both personally and through unwavering support of the House Leadership’s immigration principles. (House GOP Immigration Principles) These principles called for amnesty in the form of legalization without citizenship, full citizenship for those who claimed to have entered the country as children, expanded guest worker programs, and token enforcement measures. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 5, 2014)These principles not only ignore the core interests of the American people, they willingly sacrifice those interests to satisfy the demands of powerful special interest groups. FAIR hopes that House Republicans will elect a Speaker who will disavow these misguided principles and embrace true immigration reform principles that place the interests of the American people first.

Stay tuned to FAIR as details emerge…

Sheriffs Hold Press Conference on Release of Criminal Aliens by Feds

Last week, sheriffs representing Border States held a press conference to address their concerns regarding the federal government’s plan to release approximately 6000 inmates with nonviolent drug convictions from custody between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2. (Breitbart, Oct. 7, 2015) The federal government reported that one-third, or approximately 2000, of the inmates awaiting release are criminal aliens. (New York Times, Oct. 6, 2015)

At the press conference, sheriffs discussed the public safety implications of releasing the large number of criminal aliens back into their communities. (Breitbart, Oct. 7, 2015) Jackson County, Texas, Sheriff Louderback commented, “Law enforcement should always be concerned when this number of criminals will be released.” (Id.) He added, “I am also concerned that although the federal government claims they will be deported, as many as 2,000 illegal aliens could be released into our communities.” (Id.)

The sheriffs also discussed their concerns regarding the federal government’s Priority Enforcement Program, also known as “PEP.” (Id.) The Obama administration created PEP to replace Secure Communities, as a part of the November 2014 executive amnesty. (FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2014) PEP further narrows the federal government’s immigration enforcement priorities and only allows law enforcement to target the most serious criminal aliens. (Id.) Under the program’s priorities, a criminal alien may be allowed to remain in the country if the alien has family living in the state, if there are “extenuating circumstances” involving the offense, if the conviction is not recent, or if “humanitarian” issues are apparent, including but not limited to illness or pregnancy. (Breitbart, Oct. 7, 2015)

Although the federal government announced that the criminal aliens released will be deported, officials have not indicated whether they will implement PEP’s limitations while determining when to enforce the law. (Id.)”Because this federal administration will not follow the rule of law and has created this Priority Enforcement Program, who can guarantee they will follow the law and now deport these illegal aliens?” asked Sheriff Louderback. (Id.)”Are they going to disregard their own Priority Enforcement Program and deport these individuals?” the Sheriff added. (Id.)

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