Jordy Yager, The Hill, June 25, 2011
The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is crafting a bill that would temporarily freeze the Obama administration’s power to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.
The measure is in response to a memo issued by the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week that approved a broader breadth of discretion for agency officials when considering whether to deport someone through the Secure Communities program.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who is sponsoring the legislation, blasted the memo. He said that under the new guidelines ICE agents could defer the deportations of “millions of deportable illegal and criminal immigrants.”
Under the guidelines set forward by the ICE memo, agents could opt to defer on a case-by-case basis the deportation of people in the country illegally who have committed minor crimes or have extraordinary circumstances, such as students who would have been able to gain legal status under the DREAM Act, which stalled in the last Congress.
The 7,000-member ICE labor union has stated its opposition to the memo and issued a unanimous vote of no-confidence of ICE Director John Morton.
Realizing the dim prospects to pass the DREAM Act in this Congress, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) asked Obama last month to delay the deportation of certain illegal immigrants, such as students who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and do not have criminal histories.