The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) answers questions from reporters after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 11, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3GNB1 U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) answers questions from reporters after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3GNB1  

GOP senators attack Obama for considering more ways to weaken immigration law

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 21 Republican senators accused President Obama of trying to further dilute immigration law Thursday.

“Clearly, the urgent task facing your administration is to improve immigration enforcement, not to look for new ways to weaken it,” the senators wrote in a letter to Obama. “Since 2009, your administration has issued policy directives and memoranda incrementally nullifying immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States — to the point that unless individuals in the country illegally are apprehended, tried, and convicted for a felony or other serious offense, they are free to live and work in the country.”

In March, Obama ordered the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a an immigration “enforcement review.” Since then, reports have indicated that the administration is looking to further reduce deportations, or as the senators wrote, the changes under consideration “represent a near complete abandonment of basic immigration enforcement.”

Thursday’s letter comes as the Obama administration is already under fire for his administration’s current immigration policies.

“As a result of your policies, individuals here illegally who do not meet administration ‘priorities’ are not only largely exempt from the law, but are released even if they come into contact with federal law enforcement authorities,” the letter read.

“Because these priorities require at least one, and frequently multiple, criminal convictions, countless dangerous offenders are released back onto the streets on a continual basis,” it continued. “Since ICE frequently takes no action until after the most serious crimes have occurred and the offenders have been tried and imprisoned, the administration is allowing preventable crimes harming innocent people to take place every day.”

As the letter pointed out, according to the LA Times, since 2009 there has been a 40 percent decline in interior removals. Further, based on Immigration and Customs Enforcement data, essentially all the aliens removed from the United States were either convicted criminals or repeat border crossers — in fact, in 2013 ICE ended up releasing some 68,000 deportable criminal aliens back into the U.S.

“Our entire constitutional system is threatened when the Executive Branch suspends the law at its whim and our nation’s sovereignty is imperiled when the commander-in-chief refuses to defend the integrity of its borders,” the senators wrote.

In addition to McConnell, Sens. Chuck Grassley, Jeff Sessions,  Richard Shelby,  Mike Lee, Johnny Isakson, Mike Johanns, Jim Inhofe, John Boozman, David Vitter, James Risch, Mike Crapo, Pat Roberts, Roy Blunt, Thad Cochran, Saxby Chambliss, Tim Scott, Tom Coburn, Deb Fischer, Ted Cruz, John Hoeven, and Orrin Hatch signed the missive.

“The evidence proves that the Administration has collapsed immigration enforcement. As a result, millions of struggling Americans have been deprived of their jobs and incomes. Congress must work to end the lawlessness and restore constitutional order.  Yet Congressional Democrats continue to empower the illegality and stonewall all efforts to stop it,” Sessions said in a statement to The Daily Caller.

“The Administration’s immigration policies are widening the income gap the White House claims it wishes to narrow,” he added. “American workers have a right to the protections our immigration laws afford, but the Administration has nullified those protections while simultaneously pushing to double the flow of future guest workers into the United States. These policies make it more difficult for the working poor of all backgrounds to rise into the middle class.”

Read the full letter:

We write to express our grave concerns over the immigration “enforcement review” that you ordered after meeting with advocacy groups on March 13, 2014, and that is now being carried out by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  According to reports, the changes under consideration would represent a near complete abandonment of basic immigration enforcement and discard the rule of law and the notion that the United States has enforceable borders.

Clearly, the urgent task facing your administration is to improve immigration enforcement, not to look for new ways to weaken it.  Since 2009, your administration has issued policy directives and memoranda incrementally nullifying immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States – to the point that unless individuals in the country illegally are apprehended, tried, and convicted for a felony or other serious offense, they are free to live and work in the country.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) own figures, in 2013, nearly all individuals removed from the United States were convicted criminals and recent border crossers. As the LA Times reported, since 2009, there has been a 40% decline in removals of individuals living and working in the interior of the country.  And, recently revealed documents from ICE show that in 2013, the agency released 68,000 potentially deportable aliens deemed by ICE to pose a criminal threat.

As a result of your policies, individuals here illegally who do not meet administration “priorities” are not only largely exempt from the law, but are released even if they come into contact with federal law enforcement authorities.  Because these priorities require at least one, and frequently multiple, criminal convictions, countless dangerous offenders are released back onto the streets on a continual basis.  Since ICE frequently takes no action until after the most serious crimes have occurred and the offenders have been tried and imprisoned, the administration is allowing preventable crimes harming innocent people to take place every day.   

Chris Crane, President of the National ICE Council, testified before Congress about the inability of ICE agents to do their jobs, saying:  “I think most Americans assume that ICE agents and officers are empowered by the Government to enforce the law.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  With 11 million people in the country illegally, ICE agents are now prohibited from arresting individuals solely on charges of illegal entry or visa overstay—the two most frequently violated sections of U.S. immigration law.”  He also described how your administration is punishing ICE agents who want to uphold the oath they took to serve America.  He stated:  “As criminal aliens are released to the streets and ICE instead takes disciplinary actions against its own officers for making lawful arrests, it appears clear that Federal law enforcement officers are the enemy and not those that break our Nation’s laws.” 

These policies have operated as an effective repeal of duly enacted federal immigration law and exceed the bounds of the Executive Branch’s prosecutorial discretion.  It is not the province of the Executive to nullify the laws that the people of the United States, through their elected representatives, have chosen to enact.  To the contrary, it is the duty of the Executive to take care that these laws are faithfully executed.  Congress has not passed laws permitting people to illegally enter the country or to ignore their visa expiration dates, so long as they do not have a felony conviction or other severe offense on their record.  Your actions demonstrate an astonishing disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of American citizens and legal residents.

Our entire constitutional system is threatened when the Executive Branch suspends the law at its whim and our nation’s sovereignty is imperiled when the commander-in-chief refuses to defend the integrity of its borders. 

You swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  We therefore ask you to uphold that oath and to carry out the duties required by the Constitution and entrusted to you by the American people.

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