If the immigration reform bill before the Senate passes, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano will gain the power to pre-empt the enforcement efforts of the Nation’s Immigration and Customs officers on a case-by-case basis.
In a letter submitted to Congress Thursday by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council of the Nation’s largest Federal employees’ union, along with nearly 30 county sheriffs from across the country, the law enforcement community called upon lawmakers to object to language in the bill that would give DHS appointees far-reaching discretionary powers that would undermine the efforts of on-the-ground agents who make arrests in accordance with the law:
Congress can and must take decisive steps to limit the discretion of political appointees and empower ICE and CBP [Customs and Border Protection] to perform their respective missions and enforce the laws enacted by Congress. Rather than limiting the power of those political appointees within DHS, S. 744 [the bill] provides them with nearly unlimited discretion, which will serve only to further cripple the law enforcement missions of these agencies.
…Unfortunately, S. 744 provides no guarantee of increased border security. Instead, it relinquishes Congress’ authority to establish border security measures to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will then develop its own unilateral border security plan.
… The degree to which this legislation tolerates both past and future criminal activities ensures legalization and a path to citizenship for many criminal aliens and gang members currently residing in the United States.
What kind of “unlimited discretion” would pass from enforcement agents, working under Congress’s authority, to Big Sis?
- The power to waive misdemeanor criminal convictions (which, in some States, can include assault, DUI and vehicular homicide) for purposes of determining an illegal’s “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status.
- The discretion to open legal eligibility to illegals who have committed document fraud and evaded court-ordered removal hearings.
- Giving the DHS Secretary discretion to pardon any crime that would make an applicant ineligible, if that applicant can claim family unity, a humanitarian need or any other mitigating factor that the Secretary, according to her own definition, “believes is in the public interest.”
- Granting the DHS Secretary “sole and unreviewable discretion” to deem eligible any illegal who previously has been deported — even though the bill states that deportees aren’t otherwise eligible even to apply for legal status.
After fighting over the significance of Republicans’ demands to put border security ahead of any policy reform, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected a GOP-led effort Thursday that would have included language intended to slow the path to legal residence for those immigrants already living in the U.S. illegally.