FAIR Legislative Update July 9, 2012
According to recently released U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) figures, 15,590 unaccompanied illegal alien minors have crossed the border so far this fiscal year. (MSNBC, July 3, 2012) The CBP defines unaccompanied illegal alien minors as those under the age of 18 who are traveling without their parents or guardians. (Id.) This figure marks a significant increase over the past two years. Over the same time period in 2011, the number of unaccompanied illegal alien minors was 10,776; and in 2010, it was 13,267. (Id.) In fact, during 2011 alone, the total number of unaccompanied minors apprehended was 16,607. (CNS News, June 12, 2012)
The significant growth in the number of unaccompanied illegal alien minors comes at the same time as the Obama Administration has significantly relaxed immigration enforcement. Most recently, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a memo last month that offered to grant "deferred action" status and work authorization to illegal aliens between the ages of sixteen and thirty who are already in the country. (See FAIR Legislative Update, June 19, 2012)
This new policy of granting deferred action has the potential to encourage even more illegal border crossings by minors. This is mainly because one of the prerequisites to receiving deferred action is presence in the U.S. as of June 15, 2012 (although Administration officials suggested during a stakeholder phone call the exact cut-off date was still being determined). While future border crossers will not meet that deadline, once in the U.S., they will likely forge documents to establish eligibility.
Meanwhile both Republicans and Democrats in Congress continue to voice support for the DREAM Act, which would grant permanent amnesty to virtually all illegal alien minors. Rep. David Rivera (R-FL), and Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), have all touted competing versions of the DREAM Act. (See H.R. 5869, May 30, 2012; see also FAIR Legislative Update, April 2, 2012) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who appears to have been working with Sens. Hutchison and Kyl, has been touting his own version of the DREAM Act for months, but announced he is now withholding introducing it until after the November elections, on account of the Administration rolling out its June amnesty memo. (See FAIR Legislative Update, June 19, 2012; see also The Hill, June 18, 2012)
In a July 3rd letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) demanded to know how the agency plans to implement its new administrative amnesty program. This program was announced in a June 15, 2012 policy memo authored by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, which offered "deferred action" and work authorization to most illegal aliens up to the age of 30. (See Rep. Smith Press Release, July 3, 2012)
In the letter, Chairman Smith severely criticizes the agency for its lack of foresight and failure to plan. Charging that, "little if any thought was put toward actual implementation of the policy," Smith cites a June 18 conference call with DHS officials in which not a single one could respond to questions about how the Administration would implement the amnesty. (Read the letter here)
Rep. Smith further pointed out that during that call, neither ICE Director Morton, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Alejandro Mayorkas, nor Customs and Border Protection Commissioner David Aguilar — the officials facilitating the meeting — could respond to basic questions regarding the new policy such as:
- When must have an illegal alien entered the country to qualify?
- What is a significant misdemeanor for purposes of qualifying?
- Do part-time students qualify for the amnesty?
- Will DHS charge an application fee?
To the contrary, at the outset of the call, Director Mayorkas stated that they were "not in the position to answer many questions about the process." (Id.)
Demanding answers to the above questions and dozens of others, Chairman Smith chastised the Administration for announcing the policy without first developing an implementation plan. "Such a lack of forethought about processing and implementation prior to announcement of the policy is a dereliction of the duty the President vowed to uphold," said Smith.
Further illustrating the Administration's lack of transparency and the policy's susceptibility for fraud, the Chairman also stated that his committee had obtained internal documents suggesting the Administration was already granting amnesty to illegal aliens, despite telling the public it would take at least 60-days to develop a plan. According to Chairman Smith, "The documents demonstrate that illegal immigrants have already benefited from the new policy, even though there are no standards in place. Without any standards in place, the President's new amnesty is an open invitation to fraud."
The Department of Homeland Security had scheduled an additional conference call on the new policy to take place today, but cancelled it Friday morning. Stay tuned to FAIR as details of the Administration's amnesty policy unfolds…