by Joe Guzzardi
The House Judiciary Committee recently completed hearings that focused on President Barack Obama’s deferred action plan to grant amnesty to 300,000 aliens previously designated for removal. The aliens, in addition to getting a free pass back into the American mainstream will receive work permits. Border security was also on Chairman Lamar Smith’s agenda.
As she has done for months, Secretary Napolitano insisted that during the past two years apprehensions along the southwest border with Mexico have decreased by 36 percent. The White House equates fewer arrests with fewer crossing attempts, thus seemingly justifying Napolitano’s disingenuous statement this summer that the border is “safer than it’s been in decades.”
Napolitano also pointed to last year’s 400,000 criminal alien deportations, a total she proudly calls an ICE record. As for deferred action or so called prosecutorial discretion, scheduled to start within the next few weeks, Napolitano maintained that because of her agency’s limited resources, DHS’s prudent course of action is to prioritize deporting hardened criminals and release others.
The facts, however, don’t jive with Napolitano’s argument. Regarding southwest border security, the non-partisan General Accountability Office found that only 44 percent of the border is under “operational control.” That, countered Smith, allows nearly 500,000 aliens to enter the United States annually.
Concerning removals, Smith noted that no less an expert than President Obama admitted that the DHS statistics are “a little deceptive.” A Washington Post story found that DHS inflated its deportation numbers by including 20,000 aliens who left last year as well as several thousand “voluntary returns,” an option for deportees that avoids them appearing before an immigration judge and allows them to re-enter the United States at a future date.
Another salient fact that belies Napolitano’s dubious testimony is that worksite enforcement has plummeted during Obama’s tenure. From 2008 to 2010, administrative and criminal arrests fell by 77 percent and 60 percent, respectively, while criminal indictments and criminal convictions both dropped 66 percent.
Smith chided Napolitano for DHS’s refusal to provide specific information about illegal immigrants held on criminal charges including their names, the crimes they committed and whether some were later released back into communities.
If DHS fails to provide him with the details, Smith has vowed to issue a subpoena by next week.
As for the ICE audits of companies’ employment eligibility verification forms like the widely publicized Chipotle Mexican Grill incident, the GAO concluded that the ensuing fines are so low that they don’t deter future aliens’ hiring.
According to the GAO, some ICE officials think employers consider the nominal fines nothing more than the cost of doing business.
Smith challenged Napolitano about ICE agents’ instructions to ignore most illegal workers. Said Smith: “These illegal immigrants can simply walk down the street, knock on the door of another employer and take another job away from an unemployed American worker.”
During this period of sustained high unemployment, 9 percent nationwide but greater in states with large immigrant populations like California and Nevada, Smith is correct to hammer away at the jobs-immigration connection. With 22 million Americans unable to find a full time job, not a single alien should be employed.