The other day 19 Senators, lead by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), sent President Obama a letter expressing concern about his “immigration policies” and asking that he direct the Department of Homeland Security to “overturn recent directives regarding the increased use of prosecutorial discretion.” The letter went on to express apprehension about statements made by “advocates and members of Congress,” specifically referencing speeches by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill).
Of course, what the Senators were referring to was ICE Director John Morton’s June 17, 2011, prosecutorial discretion memo directing ICE agents and prosecutors to focus on the arrest and deportation of dangerous criminals and terrorists. They were similarly critical of Homeland Security Secretary Nepolitano’s August 18, 2011, announcement of an interagency working group tasked with the review of all pending administrative immigration cases to determine which civil prosecutions target dangerous criminals, drug dealers, and national security risks.
Yesterday, probably around the same time President Obama was reading the Senators’ letter, the media broke the story of an ICE raid which lead to the arrest, in all 50 states, of nearly 3,000 of the very people targeted for removal under the ICE policy. It was described as the largest such raid in the nation’s history.
Today, I am eagerly awaiting the Senators’ follow-up letter to President Obama. You know, the one which explains they were fed a line of hooey by the anti-immigrant restrictionists about the Administration’s enforcement policies and lauding the President for spending our tax dollars on “smart enforcement” in an effort to keep the borders secure and our communities safe. I haven’t seen the letter yet, but I imagine it will read like this:
Dear Mr. President:
The other day we sent you a letter criticizing your immigration enforcement policy of targeting dangerous criminals and national security risks. Unfortunately, the letter was long on hyperbole but short on facts. We strongly implied, without justification, that your Administration was engaging in “an initiative that circumvents Congress or aims to ensure that illegal immigrants are afforded every possibility to remain in this country.”
Fortunately, we were flat out wrong.
We understand that just as our letter landed on your desk, agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at the direction of ICE Director John Morton, were arresting nearly 3,000 criminal aliens in the largest nationwide crackdown in history. According to ICE, all of the 2,901 individuals taken into custody had prior criminal convictions including at least 1,282 who had multiple criminal convictions. More than 1,600 of those arrested had felony convictions including manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, and aggravated assault. Of the total 2,901 criminal aliens arrested, 42 were gang members and 151 were convicted sex offenders.
We would like more information about the crimes of those ICE picked up to ensure that the cases of those who do not pose a threat to public safety or national security are given careful consideration. Many misdemeanants and even some felons should not be enforcement priorities. In 1999 some of us wrote a letter to then-Attorney General Janet Reno calling for more careful use of prosecutorial discretion. We urge you to do that in each of these.
We certainly apologize for allowing ourselves to be hoodwinked by the anti-immigrant restrictionist fringe that hopes to make a dysfunctional immigration system even worse. One day, perhaps when we develop political backbone, we will even roll up our sleeves and get to the hard work of fashioning an immigration policy that meets the needs of American families and businesses, and secures our nation’s competitive edge in the global economy.
Senators Chuck Grassley, David Vitter, Jeff Sessions, Oren Hatch (and the rest of the U.S. Congress “Just Say No To Any Immigration Solution” crowd)