President Barack Obama’s Kenyan uncle was arrested for drunk driving and remains in custody without bail on an immigration detainer. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, however, declined to comment this morning on whether the president’s uncle will be released because of her cabinet department’s new enforcement guidelines.
Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, is the half-brother of the president’s late father. “His immigration status couldn’t immediately be confirmed, but such orders [immigration detainers] are generally reserved for people living in the country illegally,” according to the Associated Press.
“I know that his uncle has been picked up, but I don’t know the facts of the case,” Napolitano said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “I can’t comment on the specific case … I don’t really know about it.”
In the last two months, officials at the Department of Homeland Security have effectively stopped deporting illegal immigrants unless the border-violators have also broken additional laws.
Border security officials are now developing a list of criminal offenses that would be deemed too minor to trigger deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants, explained Napolitano.
This new policy has spurred complaints from pro-enforcement groups, such as the Center for Immigration Studies. (RELATED: Obama routinely bypasses Congress, conservatives say)
Illegal immigrants have already violated the border law, and minor offenses can be a sign of criminal intentions, say these advocates. For example, according to Mark Krikorian, the center’s executive director, three illegal immigrants from Albania were among six immigrant Islamists who prepared an attack on Fort Dix in 2007. The plotters were stopped by traffic police 75 times in the years before their arrests, but were never deported, he said.
“What will DHS’s explanation be when one of the illegal aliens reported to it by police — but whom DHS ordered released [under the new guidelines] — goes on to commit a major crime or terrorist act, as is virtually certain to happen at some point?” Krikorian asked.
“Omar should be deported, like any other illegal alien with an outstanding deportation order,” Krikorian told The DC.
“We’re always going to run the risk that one of them will commit a horrible crime, or do something like the immigrant who had a DUI and killed the nun and others last year” in a Virginia auto accident, Napolitano told the breakfast meeting.
With his poll numbers falling, Obama is under intense pressure to boost support and turnout among Hispanic voters, who comprise a growing percentage of voters in swing states like North Carolina.
The department has to prioritize enforcement policies because Congress doesn’t appropriate enough money to deport all 11–12 million illegal immigrants in the country, said Napolitano.
“Could we deport more if there were more funds available? That’s kind of a hard question to answer,” she said. “If we are unable to remove everybody that we know is a threat to security, or has a criminal record, or that we’ve caught right at the border or has multiple [illegal] reentries, then Congress should re-look at the resources they give us, she said.
“We want to build a culture of compliance in the nation’s immigration laws,” Napolitano said.