New rules will allow illegals convicted of serious felonies to remain
There's "prosecutorial discretion," and then there's Obama's idea of "prosecutorial discretion."
In his speech on Thursday night, the president promised the American people that those convicted of "serious" crimes would not be subject to amnesty. But new rules issued by Homeland Security make it clear that the administration has a weird idea of just what constitutes a "serious" felony.
The Department of Homeland Security has just released new "Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants." Designed to fill in the details after President Obama's announcement that at least four million currently illegal immigrants will be given work permits, Social Security numbers and protection from deportation, the DHS guidelines are instructions for the nation's immigration and border security officers as they administer the president's directive.
The new priorities are striking. On the tough side, the president wants U.S. immigration authorities to go after terrorists, felons, and new illegal border crossers. On the not-so-tough side, the administration views convicted drunk drivers, sex abusers, drug dealers, and gun offenders as second-level enforcement priorities. An illegal immigrant could spend up to a year in prison for a violent crime and still not be a top removal priority for the Obama administration.
In the memo, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says his department must develop "smart enforcement priorities" to exercise "prosecutorial discretion" in order to best use his agency's limited resources. Johnson establishes three enforcement priority levels to guide DHS officers as they decide whether to stop, hold, or prosecute an illegal immigrant.
Priority One is the "highest priority to which enforcement resources should be directed," the memo says. The category includes "aliens engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage, or who otherwise pose a danger to national security." It also includes "aliens apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States." In addition, any illegal immigrant convicted of an offense involving a criminal street gang, or convicted of a felony -- provided that immigration status was not an "essential element" of the charge -- is targeted. Finally, any illegal immigrant convicted of an aggravated felony is included in Priority One.
The guidelines say Priority One aliens "must be prioritized" for deportation unless they qualify for asylum or unless there are "compelling and exceptional" factors that indicate the alien is not a threat.
Priority Two offenders, whose cases are less urgent than criminals in Priority One, include the following:
aliens convicted of a "significant misdemeanor," which for these purposes is an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or driving under the influence; or if not an offense listed above, one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of 90 days or more (the sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and does not include a suspended sentence)
This opens the door for some career criminals to remain in the U.S. Sexual abuse is a predatory crime, and allowing someone convicted of it to remain in the U.S. endangers our communities. And allowing drug-traffickers to stay – including possible Mexican gang members – is the height of idiocy.
The rules further state:
DHS further defines a "significant misdemeanor" as an offense for which the maximum term of imprisonment is one year or less, but greater than five days. In addition, the guidelines contain a possible out for illegal immigrants accused of domestic abuse. "Careful consideration should be given to whether the convicted alien was also the victim of domestic violence," the guidelines say. "If so, this should be a mitigating factor."
Priority Two also includes "aliens convicted of three or more misdemeanor offenses, other than minor traffic offenses or state or local offenses for which an essential element was the alien's immigration status." But there's an important footnote to that. The three offenses must arise out of three separate incidents. If an illegal immigrant committed a single act that resulted in multiple misdemeanor charges, it would count as one charge for DHS counting purposes.
My question is, with all the law-abiding, hardworking, honest people waiting patiently to legally immigrate to the U.S., why give burglars, drug-traffickers, and other illegal alien felons a break? Our immigration policy should encourage the very best and brightest from other countries to come to the U.S. This policy turns that idea on its head and allows the worst dregs of humanity to ply their criminal trade in our communities.
This is a minor part of the president's amnesty plan. It's not likely that too many of these criminals will come forward. They don't need Social Security cards or work permits to continue to commit crimes.
But as an indication of what the administration is thinking about who deserves to stay in the U.S., it speaks volumes to Obama officials' "compassion" for the citizens they purport to serve.