In a secretive process, immigration judges are dismissing large numbers of deportation complaints against illegal immigrants, lending credence to claims that the Obama administration is using immigration courts to achieve a "back door amnesty" for illegals.
What's it take for an immigration judge to dismiss a deportation case against an illegal immigrant who has been in the country a few years? Apparently, only that the person has stayed out of trouble with the law (although being in the country illegally doesn't qualify as an offense.)
News about the dismissals -- in Houston, Dallas, Miami and other major cities -- was reported by the Houston Chronicle yesterday. In its article, "Immigration cases tossed by the hundreds," the paper reported:
In the month after Homeland Security officials started a review of Houston's immigration court docket, immigration judges dismissed more than 200 cases, an increase of more than 700 percent from the prior month, new data shows.
The number of dismissals in Houston courts reached 217 in August - up from just 27 in July, according to data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which administers the nation's immigration court system.
In September, judges dismissed 174 pending cases - the vast majority involving immigrants who already were out on bond and had cases pending on Houston's crowded downtown court docket, where hearings are now being scheduled into 2012. Roughly 45 percent of the 350 cases decided in that court in September resulted in dismissals, the records show.
The EOIR data offers the first glimpse into Homeland Security's largely secretive review of pending cases on the local immigration court docket. In early August, federal attorneys in Houston started filing unsolicited motions to dismiss cases involving suspected illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for years without committing serious crimes.
What does all this mean? Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that advocates for stricter border controls, told the Chronicle:
"When you have this kind of mass dismissal, it sends a very clear message to illegal immigrants, and to society at large, that the government is not serious about enforcing the laws. This type of action muddles the message so both the public at large as well as illegal immigrants don't know what to think."