House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith is finalizing legislation that would prevent the Obama Administration from offering amnesty to millions of illegal aliens through deferred action or parole. The notion of an administrative amnesty first surfaced through leaked internal memos last year, but a new memo from ICE Director John Morton telling his field staff to use prosecutorial discretion while enforcing federal immigration laws.
Chairman Smith's HALT (Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation) Act would prevent the Obama Administration from:
- granting parole (except in narrow circumstances),
- issuing deferred action (except in narrow circumstances),
- issuing extended voluntary departure to removable aliens,
- granting work authorization to aliens on a discretionary basis,
- granting TPS to any new groups of aliens,
- waiving the three and 10 year bars to admittance for aliens who have been illegally present in the U.S., and
- granting cancellation of removal to illegal immigrants.
Morton's memo last week told field officials how to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” such as by granting deferred action, “deciding whom to stop, question, or arrest”, deciding “whom to detain”, and “dismissing” a removal proceeding. The memo made clear that potentially millions of deportable illegal and criminal immigrants would be potentially eligible for administrative amnesty. “When weighing whether an exercise of prosecutorial discretion may be warranted for a given alien, ICE officers, agents and attorneys should consider all relevant factors”, such as:
- ICE’s “immigration enforcement priorities.” (ICE has expressed little interest in deporting illegal immigrants who have not yet been convicted of “serious” crimes.)
- The person’s “pursuit of education in the United States”. (The Migration Policy Institute estimates that more than two million illegal immigrants would be eligible for the DREAM Act amnesty).
- “Whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child or parent. . . . “Whether the person or the person’s spouse is pregnant . . . .” (The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that illegal immigrants have 4.5 million U.S.-born and thus U.S. citizen children.)
- The person’s length of presence in the U.S. (The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that millions of illegal immigrants have been in the U.S. since the 1990s.)
While the Administration can't grant citizneship through its executive authority, it can shield illegal aliens from being deported and issue temporary work authorization to illegal aliens who receive the administrative amnesty.