The latest immigration and border news from  theFederation for American Immigration Reform(FAIR) in this legislative weekly including: Backdoor amnesty initiatives, ICE updates and E-Verify movement.

Backdoor Amnesty Moves to California; Number of Illegal Alien Beneficiaries Grows

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1In the latest phase of the Obama Administration’s backdoor amnesty scheme, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys last week began reviewing more than 18,000 pending deportation cases in San Francisco, California. (San Jose Mercury News, June 5, 2012)

Under the review, the Administration will administratively close — or otherwise ignore — any pending or incoming immigration case it does not deem a priority for immigration enforcement.  (See Letter from DHS Secretary Napolitano to Harry Reid, Aug. 18, 2012)

Thus far, ICE has reviewed over 288,000 cases pending removal. Of those reviewed, ICE plans to administratively close 20,648. Over 4,300 of these cases have already been processed and the remaining will be closed pending background checks. (See case-by-case review statistics here, June 8, 2012; see also New York Times, June 6, 2012) The Administration had offered an additional 3,998 illegal and criminal aliens prosecutorial discretion, but they declined the offer. Nonetheless, the Administration has gone on to grant a majority of them work authorization. (Id.)

The number of illegal and criminal aliens granted administrative amnesty as a result of the review has almost tripled in the last few months. As of March 5, ICE had administratively closed or dismissed roughly 1,600 cases and had deemed an additional 11,000 eligible for closure. (See ICE email, Mar. 9, 2012)

The latest ICE statistics also reveal that the agency has reviewed approximately 111,000 incoming cases for prosecutorial discretion. It claims, however, that it is still determining the number of cases actually closed. (See case-by-case review statistics, June 8, 2012)

ICE has already reviewed pending deportation cases in New York, Detroit, Seattle, New Orleans, Orlando, Baltimore, and Denver.  (FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 2, 2012) It expects to complete the review of San Francisco’s pending cases by June 15, 2012, and then moves to the Los Angeles docket in July. (San Jose Mercury News, June 5, 2012; Huffington Post, Mar. 30, 2012)

House Passes Homeland Security Funding Bill, Immigration Front-and-Center

Late Thursday, the House passed its fiscal year 2013 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill 234-182. The bill, H.R. 5855, provides $39.1 billion in discretionary spending for the Department, $484 million below the current fiscal year’s level and $394 million less than President Obama’s request. (CQ Today, June 7, 2012; see FAIRLegislative Update, May 14, 2012)

True immigration reformers in the House offered numerous amendments to the legislation, which FAIR supported. These amendments included:

  • Barletta (R-PA) — Prohibits funds from going to sanctuary cities (adopted via voice vote)
  • Black (R-TN) — Prohibits funding for the position of Public Advocate/illegal alien lobbyist within Immigration Customs and Enforcement (adopted via voice vote)
  • Cravaack (R-MN) — Prohibits the use of Immigration and Customs Enforcement funds to provide alternative forms of detention for criminal aliens (adopted via voice vote)
  • Graves (R-MO) — Prohibits DHS from implementing its rule to circumvent the 3 and 10-yr bars to admission for unlawful presence (adopted via voice vote)
  • King (R-IA) — Prohibits funds to enforce the Morton Memos (adopted 238-175)
  • Poe (R-TX) — Transfers $10 million from the Office of the Undersecretary for Management to Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology for border cell phone service (adopted 302-113)
  • Price (R-GA) — Prohibits funds from being used to circumvent/fail to enforce immigration laws (adopted via voice vote)
  • Sullivan (R-OK) — Prohibits funds from being used to terminate the 287(g) program (adopted 250-164)

Despite overwhelming support in the House for the bill and its responsible immigration-reform measures, the legislation’s future remains unclear. President Obama has already threatened to veto the bill. Moreover, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed its own version of FY 2013 DHS appropriations, which cuts several key immigration programs. (See Statement of Administration Policy, June 6, 2012; see also FAIR Legislative Update, May 30, 2012) Stay tuned to FAIR for updates as the legislation moves through Congress…

D.C. Directs Jails to Ignore ICE Detainers, Undermine Secure Communities

The City Council for the District of Columbia (D.C.) adopted a measure Tuesday, Bill 19-585, aimed at undermining the federal government’s Secure Communities program by directing jails to ignore Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers except for in limited circumstances. (Washington Post, June 5, 2012; Judiciary Committee Report on Bill 19-585, p. 96)

The D.C. Council passed the measure in response to ICE’s activation of Secure Communities in the District that same day, along with the territories of Guam, American Somoa, and the Virgin Islands. (See ICE list of activated jurisdictions, updated June 5, 2012)

The ordinance impedes D.C. correctional officers’ ability to honor ICE detainers in several ways. First, the measure prohibits their ability to hold aliens for longer than a 24-hour period for ICE to pick-up, despite federal regulations requiring a 48-hour period. (See 19-585 at § 2(a)); see also 8 C.F.R. 287.7(d)) Furthermore, Committee testimony from a hearing on the measure suggests D.C. officials will not hold aliens that are picked up on Fridays or the day before a holiday. (Judiciary Committee Report on Bill 19-585, p. 12 description of § 2, fn 27, May 8, 2012)

Second, the measure prohibits officers from honoring and ICE detainer unless the alien is at least 18 years of age and has been convicted of one of the following:

  • A dangerous or violent crime for which the alien is currently in custody;
  • A dangerous or violent crime within 10 years of the detainer request, or if the alien was just released after having served a sentence for such crime within 5 years of the request; or
  • A crime in another jurisdiction that constitutes a dangerous or violent crime in D.C.

(19-585 at § 2(b)). The measure does provide, however, that D.C. officers may honor an ICE detainer for any alien convicted of a homicide regardless of how long ago the conviction occurred. (Id. at § 2(c))

Finally, the measure expressly prohibits D.C. officers from providing to any ICE agent “an office, booth, or any facility or equipment” to use to inquire about the immigration status of inmates. (Id. at § 2(d))

Members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department have already decried the measure’s passage. “If we, the D.C. police, arrest a convicted child molester that is here illegally and ICE says hold that individual and they don’t get down here in 24 hours, we’re going to put that man back on the street,” said Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee Chairman Kristopher Baumann. (NPR, June 7, 2012)

The measure expands an executive order issued by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray last fall. That order prohibited all public safety agencies from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status or from contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if there is no nexus to a criminal investigation. (See Mayor’s Order 2011-174, Oct. 19, 2011; see alsoFAIR Legislative Update, Oct. 24, 2011)

Milwaukee Executive Signs Resolution to Ignore ICE Detainers

Last week, Milwaukee County, WI Executive Chris Abele signed into law a resolution passed by the County Board of Supervisors that would limit the Sheriff Office’s (MCSO) ability to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 4, 2012; see also Adopted Resolution #12-135)

Specifically, the proposed resolution #12-135, provides the MCSO shall only honor an ICE detainer IF the alien:

  • Has been convicted of at least one felony or two non-traffic related misdemeanors;
  • Has been convicted or charged with any domestic violence offense or violation of a protective order;
  • Has been convicted or charged with intoxicated use of a vehicle;
  • Is a defendant in a pending criminal case, has an outstanding criminal warrant, or is an identified gang member; or
  • Is a possible match on the U.S. terrorist watch list.

(See Adopted Resolution #12-135see also FAIR Legislative Update, May 21, 2012)

Mr. Abele changed his position and signed the resolution after being the target of lobbyists for several open borders groups. According to a spokesman for Mr. Abele, the County Executive met representatives of Voces de la Frontera and Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope prior to signing the resolution. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 4, 2012)

Mr. Abele addressed his about-face in a written statement: “As I’ve said in the past, I believe immigration issues like this are best handled at the federal level. Because of that, I was reluctant to sign this policy,” he said. “However, after meeting with advocates and talking to experts on both sides I’m signing this as the start of what I hope will become a bigger conversation on immigration reform.” (Id.)

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., however, called the resolution nothing more than symbolic and said that his office would continue to cooperate with ICE. (WUWM News, June 4, 2012) Sheriff Clarke also criticized Mr. Abele for changing his position, “It’s not the right thing to do to lie to people,” Clarke said. “To me, this guy has no credibility.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 4, 2012)

Milwaukee now joins San Francisco County, Santa Clara County, Cook County, the District of Columbia, and New York City in refusing to honor ICE detainers.

California City Losing Battle on E-Verify Requirement

The City Council of Mission Viejo, California could be gearing up to repeal a city law that requires businesses to use E-Verify.

The Council will soon vote on whether to repeal a 2010 ordinance, 10-281, which requires any contractors for the City of Mission Viejo to use the online work authorization verification system known as E-Verify to confirm the legal working status of newly-hired employees. (See Mission Viejo Municipal Code at Title 2 § 2.80)

The City Council began debating whether to repeal the ordinance last November after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1236, legislation prohibiting municipalities from mandating the use of E-Verify unless required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds. (AB 1236 at §2; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Oct. 11, 2011) It delayed its plans to repeal the E-Verify ordinance, however, to see if other California cities would challenge the new law. (Orange County Register, Nov. 22, 2011)

Those with E-Verify requirements similar to the Mission Viejo ordinance include the cities of Murrieta, Hemet, Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Menifee, Escondido, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Placentia, Yorba Linda, and San Bernardino County. (Orange County Register, Nov. 22, 2011; see also Press-Enterprise, Oct. 20, 2011; see also North County Times, Nov. 9, 2011) However, none of these cities challenged AB 1236, and some have already repealed or modified their ordinances to comply with state law. (North County Times, Nov. 9, 2011)

Since no local jurisdiction had challenged the law, the Council placed the E-Verify repeal back on its agenda. A new delay occurred when the council voted to table the motion for an additional week to allow extra time to conduct research on the issue. (Mission Viejo Council Meeting Summary and Video, June 4, 2012; see also Orange County Register, June 4, 2012)

The council now expects to vote on the repeal at the meeting the following meeting scheduled to take place June 18. (See Mission Viejo Council Calendar, June 4, 2012) Stay tuned to FAIR as details unfold..