Federation for American Immigration Reform

MPI: Executive Action Shields Nearly All Illegal Aliens from Deportation

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) finds that President Obama’s executive amnesty will shield nearly all illegal aliens from deportation. In particular, the report focuses on two aspects of the President’s November 2014 decrees unrelated to deferred action: the administration’s new enforcement priorities and replacing Secure Communities with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). (See FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2014) According to MPI, “While much of the attention to the president’s executive action announcement has focused on the deferred action programs, which could grant relief from deportation to as many as 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants, implementation of the new enforcement priorities and the PEP program are likely to affect a substantially larger number of unauthorized immigrants, about 9.6 million people.” (MPI, Understanding the Potential Impact of Executive Action on Immigration Enforcement, July 2015 at 1) Since MPI calculates the entire illegal alien population at 11 million, this means approximately 87% of illegal aliens are exempt from removal. (Id.) Last November, President Obama unilaterally overhauled our immigration system through ten policy memoranda that are sweeping in scope. One of the memos rescinded the Morton Memos — the administration’s 2011 enforcement “priorities” policy and created a three-tiered enforcement priority. Under these priorities, the Obama administration will only enforce immigration laws against: (1) aliens who pose a threat to national security, border security, or public safety; (2) misdemeanants and new immigration violators; and (3) aliens who have been issued a final order of removal after January 1, 2014. (FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2014) Another memo gutted the successful Secure Communities program and replaced it with PEP, a limited program that is designed to deport convicted criminals by using fingerprints and working with the Justice Department to remove illegal aliens in federal prisons. (Id.; see FAIR Legislative Update, June 30, 2015) According to MPI, the change in enforcement priorities has cut in half the number of illegal aliens who fell under the Administration’s previous enforcement priorities set in 2011. Under these priorities (established via the Morton Memos), MPI calculates that 3 million illegal aliens (27% of the illegal alien population) were subject to removal. (MPI, Understanding the Potential Impact of Executive Action on Immigration Enforcement, July 2015 at 11) However, MPI calculates that only 1.4 million illegal aliens (13% of the illegal alien population) will fall within new enforcement priorities. (Id. at 10) Specifically, MPI calculates that 690,000 illegal aliens fall under priority 1; 640,000 under priority 2; and 60,000 under priority 3. (Id.) Therefore, MPI determined that this change will result in 25,000 fewer interior removals per year. (Id.at 9)

Victims’ Families Plead for Immigration Enforcement

Last week, as legislation targeting “sanctuary” cities moved through Congress, both the Senate and the House held hearings that gave victims of the Administration’s lax enforcement policies a chance to speak to the public. (See Senate Judiciary Committee, July 21, 2015; House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, July 23, 2015) Last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was entitled “Oversight of the Administration’s Misdirected Immigration Policies: Examining the Impact on Public Safety and Honoring the Victims.” (Senate Judiciary Committee, July 21, 2015) In the first panel of witnesses, survivors of crimes committed by illegal aliens testified to the devastating losses they had suffered due to the government’s refusal to enforce immigration laws. They included: Mrs. Susan Oliver, the wife of Deputy Sheriff Daniel Oliver; Mr. Michael Ronnebeck, the uncle of Grant Ronnebeck; Mr. Jim Steinle, the father of Kathryn Steinle; Brian McCann, brother of Dennis McCann, and Ms. Laura Wilkerson, the mother of Josh Wilkerson. (Seevideos of Oliver Testimony; Ronnebeck Testimony, Steinle Testimony, McCann Testimony, Wilkerson Testimony) The first panel also featured three witnesses who defended the Administration’s lax policies and local policies that prohibit cooperation with the Administration: Ms. Grace Huang, from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Reverend Gabriel Salguero, from the Lambs Church, and J. Thomas Manger, Chief of Police of Montgomery County, MD Police Department. (Senate Judiciary Committee, July 21, 2015) During the panel, the witnesses movingly pleaded for Congress to protect Americans instead of illegal aliens. (Id.) First, Mrs. Susan Oliver, the widow of Sacramento County Sheriff Deputy Danny Oliver, for whom the Davis-Oliver Bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was named, asked Congress to make sure her husband had not died in vain. (Id.; see FAIR Press Release, June 23, 2015; FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 4, 2014) She recounted how in October of last year, her life was forever changed when an illegal alien, who had been deported for committing several felonies, shot her husband as he approached a car on his beat. (See video of Oliver Testimony) This tragic death, she said, only happened because the failure of law enforcement agencies to coordinate and allow the offender to return to the U.S. (Id.) The next family member to testify was Mr. Michael Ronnebeck, whose 21 year old nephew, Grant Ronneback, was callously shot by an illegal alien in January during his overnight shift at a QuikTrip convenience store in Mesa, Arizona. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 3, 2015; see video of Ronnebeck Testimony) Mr. Ronnebeck described how in August 2012 his nephew’s alleged murderer had been arrested after kidnapping, burglarizing, and sexually assaulting a woman and then, taking a plea deal to a charge of felony burglary for the incident, was sentenced to no prison time, but turned over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. (Id.) But, Mr. Ronnebeck related, rather than deport him, ICE released the convicted felon on bond pending his deportation hearing. (Id.) Even worse, Mr. Ronnebeck said, he remained free even as two orders of protection, one for a murder threat, were entered against the alien as he waited for his hearing. (Id.) After this terrible ordeal, Mr. Ronnebeck testified, his family’s “greatest desire” is that his nephew’s legacy will be “a force for change and reform in the immigration policies of this great nation.” (Id.) The next family member to testify was Mr. Jim Steinle. As he recalled the happy and generous spirit of his daughter Kate Steinle, he said that that America had suffered a “self-inflicted wound” at the hands of an illegal alien who already been convicted of seven felonies and deported from the country five times. (See video of Steinle Testimony) He pointed out how dismayed he was to read that between 2010 and 2014, 121 criminal aliens with active deportation cases had been released instead of deported and gone on to be charged with homicide — an average of one every 12 days. (Id.) He also asked Congress to pass new legislation, because if only it saved “one daughter, one son, a mother,[or] a father,” his own daughter’s death would not be in vain. (Id.) The fourth family member was Mr. Brian McCann, who explained how Cook County, Illinois’ sanctuary policies allowed the alleged killer of his brother, Denny McCann, to evade prosecution for the crime. (See video of McCann Testimony andWritten McCann Testimony) Mr. McCann explained that an illegal alien and already convicted felon had struck his brother with a car in June 2011 while driving drunk and dragged him under the car for a block in an attempt to flee, causing his death. (Id.) After the illegal alien’s arrest for this horrible crime, Cook Country, following their ordinance refusing to honor ICE detainers, instead released the alien onto the streets on bond, allowing him to flee to Mexico, where, Mr. McCann has been informed, he is free and employed driving a truck. (Id.) Mr. McCann says he expects Congress to act to prevent “sanctuary jurisdictions” to “get away with literally murder.” (Id.) He also called out his own Senator, Dick Durbin (D-IL), for leaving during his testimony. (Id.) Senator Durbin did appear during the second panel, after his constituent had been dismissed. (Id.) The last family member to testify was Ms. Laura Wilkerson, whose son Josh Wilkerson was tortured to death by an illegal alien “dreamer” in 2010. (See video of Wilkerson Testimony) She noted that her son’s killer would be eligible for parole after 30 years — when he is 49, and that she doesn’t expect him to be deported. (Id.) She emphatically called out the elected officials of the government for prioritizing the protection of illegal aliens over the Americans who actually elected them. (Id.) “You should be for Americans,” she said. “Your silence speaks volumes. You’re either for Americans, or you’re not.” (Id.) She continued “I’m not giving up another kid” so that “a foreign person can have a nicer life.” (Id.) “Sympathy,” she said, “has never trumped the law in this country,” and illegal aliens here are not “scared,” they are invited by sanctuary policies. (Id.) At the end of her testimony, a number of audience members — other family members of victims of illegal aliens, stood up and applauded — which the Capitol Police quickly put to an end. (Id.) Asking no questions of the first panel, the Senate Judiciary Committee invited the second panel of witnesses to step forward: the two Administration officials responsible for carrying out the President’s immigration policies, ICE Director Sarah Saldana and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez. (Senate Judiciary Committee, July 21, 2015; BGOV Transcript, July 22, 2015) While Director Saldana proclaimed herself “greatly moved” by the first panel, her testimony made clear she was not moved enough to enforce U.S. immigration law. When Senator David Vitter (R-LA) asked her at what point the Administration would ever consider introducing negative consequences to sanctuary cities, she said, “I presume when you all address comprehensive immigration reform.” (Id.) Of course, as Senator Jeff Sessions noted, nothing in the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill actually did address sanctuary cities at all, despite Saldana’s declaration that the Administration was holding anti-sanctuary cities hostage to amnesty. (Id.) Her implication that an amnesty deal would make the Administration willing to crack down on sanctuary cities also seemed inconsistent with the excuse she offered Senator Vitter shortly before, that somehow the federal courts were tying the Administration’s hands. (Id.) Several senators also pressed Ms. Saldana on her own statements supporting cracking down on sanctuary cities in March. (Id.; see FAIR Legislative Update, Mar. 31. 2015) For instance, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked her whether an Administration official pressured to take back her statement in a hearing, “Thank-you, Amen, Yes,” when asked if she wanted Congress to pass legislation clarifying that detainers were mandatory. (BGOV Transcript, July 22, 2015) She answered, implausibly, that both her answer and her correction the next day taking it back “came from the heart” without any pressure from the Administration. (Id.) She then suggested to the skeptical Sen. Cruz that her statements could be reconciled because she did believe making detainers mandatory was “helpful,” even though she did not believe any legislation should make them mandatory. (Id.) On Thursday, members of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security demonstrated that they were also skeptical of the Administration’s defenses of its policies in a hearing titled: “Sanctuary Cities: A Threat to Public Safety.” (House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, July 23, 2015) In this hearing, members of the committee again heard from Mr. Steinle, as well as several experts: Scott Jones, the Sheriff of Sacramento County, Jessica Vaughn, of the Center for Immigration Studies, and Richard Biehl, the Chief of Police of Dayton, Ohio. (Id.) This hearing, held by the Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), also demonstrated the hollowness of Administration and amnesty advocates excuses for enabling sanctuary cities and granting amnesty to illegal aliens as a way to promote public safety by encouraging the reporting of crimes. (Id.) Chairman Gowdy explained: “we are releasing known criminals back into society so society will help us catch known criminals.” (Id.) Furthermore, he pointed out, the amnesty advocates say their amnesty policies are necessary so that illegal aliens will “get on the books,” but to supposedly do this, they are releasing criminals like Kate Steinle’s alleged murderer who are not just “on the books” but already “in jail.” (Id.) Several members of the Committee also questioned why the President has still not reached out to the Steinle family, as Mr. Steinle confirmed has not happened. (Id.) Representative John Ratcliffee (R-TX) noted that President Obama did more than “express his condolences” to the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Freddie Grey. (Id.) Representative Dave Trott (R-MI) told Mr. Steinle he was sorry that the President had not reached out, saying that he was surprised it had not happened. (Id.) Chairman Gowdy also promised the victims that the bill H.R. 3009, brought to the floor the same day as the hearing, was only a “first step” in what the Committee was planning to do to address the issue. (Id.) Whether this commitment is shared by GOP leadership will be put to the test in coming days.

House Passes Bill Denying Funds to Sanctuary Cities

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a narrow bill that denies certain federal funds to sanctuary cities. In a 241-179 vote, the House approved Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) H.R. 3009, the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act. (Roll Call Vote #466) Specifically, the bill denies SCAAP funds, and COPS and Byrne grants to States and jurisdictions that refuse to share with the federal government the immigration status in violation of current law or have a policy in place that prohibits the collection of this information. (See 8 U.S.C. § 1373) House Republicans praised the bill upon its passage. Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said, “Today, the House of Representatives took a good first step towards addressing this public safety problem, but more must be done. President Obama’s lack of interior enforcement has made the United States a sanctuary nation.” (Goodlatte Press Release, July 23, 2015) True immigration reformer Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) said, “We have now taken the first small step toward telling jurisdictions that they should not be putting illegal immigrants ahead of legal American residents. I look forward to continued hard work on this issue, and will always fight to protect law-abiding people.” (Barletta Press Release, July 23, 2015) Despite the commonsense nature of this bill, the White House opposes it. Remarkably, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration does not take “particularly seriously” H.R. 3009, or other bills that target sanctuary cities despite Kate Steinle’s death being the result of such policies. (See CQ Today, July 23, 2015) Instead, Earnest continued to blame Republicans for not passing the mass guest worker amnesty bill in the previous Congress. (Id.) Indeed, President Obama’s senior advisors have recommended the President veto H.R. 3009 if the Senate passes it, claiming the bill would “threaten the civil rights of all Americans, lead to mistrust between communities and State and local law enforcement agencies.” (Statement of Administration Policy, July 23, 2015) H.R. 3009 now moves to the Senate but it is unclear if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will bring it up for a vote. Congress has one working week left before the annual August recess. Sanctuary City Funding

San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs File Complaint against City’s Sanctuary Policy

Last week, the union representing San Francisco deputy sheriffs filed a complaint with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, demanding that the Department rescind the sanctuary policy that prohibits the San Francisco sheriff’s office from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. (ABC 7, July 17, 2015) The deputies’ union filed the complaint just days after the murder of Kate Steinle on Pier 14 by an illegal alien suspect with multiple previous deportations and felony convictions. The San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association’s (“Association”) complaint charges that the Department’s refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities “recklessly compromises the safety” of the citizens, visitors, and law enforcement personnel of San Francisco. (Complaint, July 13, 2015) Specifically, they charge that the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department’s policy, issued by Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi in 2014, ties the hands of its law enforcement officers by prohibiting any cooperation with immigration detainers issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). (Press Release, May 29, 2014) San Francisco’s Sanctuary Directive and Due Process for All Ordinance also stand as obstacles to law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with ICE. (Executive Directive 07-01; File No. 130764) Both prohibit compliance with immigration detainers issued by federal authorities and from notifying federal authorities regarding when a criminal alien will be released from city custody. (Id.) In its complaint, the Association accuses the Sheriff’s Department of implementing its sanctuary policy behind closed doors, in violation of both law and its contractual obligations with the union. (Complaint, July 13, 2015) The Sheriff’s Department is required to consult the Association, in good faith, before implementing any change to long standing policy under the Sheriff’s department that may interfere with public safety. (Id.) Kate Steinle’s murder has ignited public outrage at the city’s policy to protect criminal aliens from the enforcement of immigration law. The accused murderer, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was previously in federal custody and would have been deported for the sixth time before he was transported to San Francisco to address a 20-year-old drug charge. (Pleasanton Patch, July 22, 2015) When the charge was thrown out by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the city’s sheriff’s department refused to honor a detainer request to transfer Lopez-Sanchez to ICE. (Id.) Instead, the Sheriff’s Department, pursuant to its sanctuary policy, released Lopez-Sanchez back into the community. (Id.) State and local leaders are not the only officials demanding repeal of sanctuary policies. The United States House of Representatives passed a bill, the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, on Thursday to bar state and local jurisdictions from receiving certain federal if the jurisdiction has a policy prohibiting cooperation or communication with ICE. (CBS News, July 23, 2015) “This tragedy was preventable,” commented House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner. “The fact is some cities decide to ignore our laws, and not only is that wrong but it’s clearly dangerous as well.” (Id.) Senators Jeff Sessions and Ron Johnson introduced a similar bill in the Senate on Thursday called the Protecting American Lives Act. (Id.)]]>