Senate Republicans say a series of new administration memos have effectively created a backdoor amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on Wednesday sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano demanding more information regarding the “backdoor amnesty memos” circulating at the department. The letter was signed by Graham and the other six Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees immigration.
Napolitano has said her department is trying to focus resources on illegal immigrants with long criminal records, but the letter says it appears that the administration is trying to carve out categories of illegal immigrants that won’t be deported. The Washington Post reports that the administration has stepped up removal of convicted criminal immigrants, deporting almost 52,000 more than last year, an increase of 42 percent. But at the same time, deportation of other immigrants dropped almost 54,000.
Following is an exert from Graham’s letter:
“We now understand that a memorandum, which laid out some of the same proposals for granting immigration benefits to illegal immigrants who are barred from such relief by federal law, and which contained extensive discussions of the political considerations for such actions, was prepared at DHS headquarters for your review earlier this year. As members of the Committee with jurisdiction over immigration and naturalization matters, we ask that you make time before we recess in October to come to Capitol Hill and brief us on these memos and on the department’s recent actions in this area.
In response to earlier queries about the USCIS memorandum, you stated that the document was an ‘internal draft memorandum’ that was intended to simply ‘raise [the] best ideas of DHS employees and should not be equated with official action by DHS. You have also stated that DHS will not take any action with regard ‘to the Nation’s entire illegal immigrant population or large classes of such population’ to stop the removal of illegal immigrants.
These assurances, however, do not address the other proposals contained in these recently-discovered memoranda that would, among other things, evade the current statutory penalties that bar aliens who illegally cross our borders from receiving immigration benefits, or that would allow violators of U.S. immigration laws to use relationships to legal residents or U.S. citizens to obtain immigration benefits to which they are not entitled under the law. These proposals, which are described in both memos, could allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay permanently in the United States. Your assurances also fail to address reports that DHS has adopted a policy of refusing to remove any illegal immigrant who happens to be apprehended if he or she might qualify for relief in legislation—such as the DREAM Act or the AgJobs bill—that has been introduced, but not passed, by Congress. Finally, your assurances do little to assuage our concerns about repeated references in the memoranda to finding other ways, on an administrative level, to make most illegal immigrants in the country legal.”