Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
Conservative groups launch cohesive attack on immigration memo
A coalition of conservative organizations wants U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and other Republicans to know that they support calls for increased scrutiny of administrative immigration rules, even if those involved say the discussions are nothing new.
Grassley and six additional GOP senators sent letters to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in June and again in July to request additional information on a leaked internal memo that the Congressmen believed pointed to “a large-scale, de facto amnesty program” based on discretionary authority vested in Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Despite clarification by a top attorney at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that the information contained in the memo was nothing new, and represented concepts that had been under consideration for years, a coalition of 18 conservative groups lashed out at the Obama administration Monday in an attempt to solidify claims that the White House is bent on launching an amnesty program for individuals who have entered the country illegally.
Their letter to President Barack Obama called the perceived power grab an “abuse of power” that would “feed public cynicism.”
“The Obama administration’s secret memo from USCIS amounts to a smoking gun,” said Conlin Hanna, president of conservative group Let Freedom Ring. “Then the New York Times broke the story that this administration has unilaterally declared de facto amnesty for certain illegal aliens. This end-run amnesty is wholly unacceptable to the American people.”
The jointly-authored letter “strongly urged” the Obama administration to refrain from using executive power “to effectively legalize significant numbers of illegal aliens.” The groups distributed the letter, which also points to “abuses of the legislative process” during the national debate on health care reform, Monday to the National Press Club.
“That unelected bureaucrats would even set forth this array of power-grabbing administrative de facto amnesty options demands the President’s assurance,” said Roy Beck, who represents the immigration crack-down group NumbersUSA. “We know the President wants to give all illegal aliens an amnesty. But as long as Congress refuses to give him the amnesty, the public deserves a promise from the President that his administrative won’t deprive Congress of its exclusive authority to set immigration policy.”
The DHS/USCIS 11-page memo that has drawn the concern was obtained by Grassley, and has been brushed off by the federal agency as little more than internal brainstorming.
Roxana Bacon, the top attorney at USCIS and co-author of the leaked draft memo, told the Center for Investigative Reporting that many of the administrative remedies contained in the memo were concepts and ideas that had been within the agency for years.
“The ideas are not new ideas, and came out of many different sources: Congress, advocacy groups, academia and within government itself,” she said. “It’s only a collection of ideas, not a final determination.”
The memo provides a list of potential administrative fixes to immigration law if Congress fails to pass immigration reform. It includes discussion of the ability by officials to exercise discretion when applying existing immigration laws, including deportation.
Such assertions led Grassley and other senators to demand that Napolitano provide them with the number of times each year removal actions had been deferred or that undocumented people were granted parole.
“The administration has yet to answer our letter about reports that it may be planning a large-scale, de facto amnesty program through deferred action and parole,” Grassley said in July when senators sent their follow-up letter. “By shedding a little light on the numbers, we’re working to get to the bottom of the administration’s plans. If it wants to claim that discretionary authority is being used on a case-by-case bais, then let’s determine if these cases are truly meritorious.”
To date, the senators have received no answer to their specific questions.
According to figures gathered by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, criminal immigration prosecutions and deportations levels under the Obama administration have at least matched, if not surpassed, action taken under the George W. Bush administration.
A statement released by USCIS indicates that “internal memos do not and should not be equated with official action or policy,” and that the agency “will not grant deferred action or humanitarian parole to the nation’s entire illegal immigrant population.”
Internal draft memos do not and should not be equated with official action or policy of the Department. We will not comment on notional, pre-decisional memos. As a matter of good government, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will discuss just about every issue that comes within the purview of the immigration system. We continue to maintain that comprehensive bipartisan legislation, coupled with smart, effective enforcement, is the only solution to our nation’s immigration challenges.
Internal memoranda help us do the thinking that leads to important changes; some of them are adopted and others are rejected. Our goal is to implement policies wisely and well to strengthen all aspects of our mission. The choices we have made so far have strengthened both the enforcement and services sides of USCIS – nobody should mistake deliberation and exchange of ideas for final decisions. To be clear, DHS will not grant deferred action or humanitarian parole to the nation’s entire illegal immigrant population.
The groups that formed the coalition are Let Freedom Ring, NumbersUSA, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council Action, Judicial Watch, Tea Party WDC, ProEnglish, Minutemen Civil Defense Corp., Minutemen Foundation, Maryland Center-Right Coalition, Eagle Forum of Alabama, American Values, Center for American Common Culture, National Tax Limitation Committee, Committee for Justice, ConservativeHQ.com, Rightmarch.com and Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.