Records Show Obama Administration Began to Implement Provisions of the DREAM Act Rejected by Congress; DHS Official: “And we wonder why ppl [people] FOIA us.”Contact Information:
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detailing behind-the-scenes efforts by the Obama administration to bypass Congress and grant amnesty at least one million illegal aliens by suspending immigration deportation proceedings against “DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act kids” and other illegal aliens. The records include internal DHS strategic documents, as well as extensive email communications within the DHS and with the Obama White House. The documents were obtained by Judicial Watch as a result of two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed on March 23, 2011 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-604) and Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-606)).
The records include emails from press outlets investigating the Obama administration’s efforts to suspend the deportations of students who would be covered under The DREAM Act, which was under consideration by Congress. The DREAM Act would have permitted certain immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status, eventually obtain permanent legal status, and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military. The DREAM Act has failed repeatedly to pass Congress. The DREAM Act initially could provide amnesty for over one million illegal immigrants and would have cost over $6 billion a year.
Highlights from the newly disclosed documents include the following:
- In an April 20, 2010, email from Melissa Crow, former DHS Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Office of Immigration and Border Security, to Roxana Bacon, Chief Counsel for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Crow states: “Since we met, I’ve done my best to encourage ICE to grant deferred action in the DREAM Act cases…brought to my attention.”
- In an email chain about “one of the DREAM [Act] kids” who was being detained by authorities suggests confusion at DHS regarding how to handle requests for “deferred action” from illegal alien students. In the email chain, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Chief of Staff Suzanne Barr writes to DHS Deputy Press Secretary Matthew Chandler, “we r f’ed up,” to which Chandler responds, “Yep. And we wonder why pp’l FOIA us.” The student was granted a stay of removal for six months.
- In response to a USA Today inquiry into whether aliens are required to carry identification, DHS General Counsel John R. Sandweg writes, “Ugh. Yes. Fed law does require aliens to carry their paperwork. I don’t know if it is a criminal offense, but this provision has gone relatively unnoticed by media and [redacted].” “…I think some groups of aliens are exempted from this requirement as they don’t really have paperwork (folks who were issued deferred action). Either way, it is not routinely enforced.”
- In a memo from Mariela Melero, Chief of the Office of Public Engagement of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, entitled “Stakeholder Input of Administrative Reforms,” Melero sets forth suggested reforms “outside of Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which includes the opinion that the director – unless otherwise required by law – has the authority to judge if the evidence presented for deferred action is “probably true.” Another reform would allow a 501(c)3 organization in “good standing… to design and implement voter registration programs at USCIS offices across the country.”
The Obama administration’s campaign to suspend the deportations of illegal aliens has been subject to intense scrutiny since 2010, when the press uncovered a USCIS memo that contemplated various “administrative alternatives” to bypass Congress and implement stealth amnesty for illegal aliens. A subsequent Houston Chronicle story exposed an effort by the administration to suspend the deportations of illegal aliens who supposedly have not been convicted of any “serious” crimes.
Documents uncovered by Judicial Watch show that DHS officials misled Congress and the public about the scope of the immigration enforcement policy change, which gave wide latitude to local immigration officials to dismiss illegal alien deportation cases – including the dismissal of charges against illegal alien criminals convicted of violent crimes. The Obama administration announced last week that it would effectively halt any enforcement actions (on an alleged “case-by-case” basis) against any illegal alien who hasn’t committed any other serious crimes. The administration denied that this was a blanket or categorical amnesty, but these new documents show otherwise.
“These documents show the Obama administration is lying about its stealth amnesty activities and its alarming contempt for Congress and the rule of law. Frankly, these documents show that Obama immigration officials don’t even know what the law is! The Obama administration cannot simply pick and choose which federal immigration laws it will enforce. In its zeal to curry favor with the illegal alien lobby and secure Hispanic votes for a second term, the Obama administration is exercising raw executive power to change the law by granting illegal aliens amnesty in a way that strikes at the heart of our constitutional system and the rule of law. This is a festering constitutional crisis,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.