“I think that the immigration community has, frankly, given the Democrats and the president far less credit than they deserve for how much we’ve – the president has fundamentally altered the system to essentially have removed the threat of deportation over virtually every undocumented immigrant in the country already,” Rosenberg said. “That’s already happened.”
Rosenberg made his remarks as a panelist at the 11th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference held at Georgetown University Law Center.
The discussion centered on whether Obama will give amnesty to many more of the estimated 11 million illegal aliens now living in the U.S.
Rosenberg said he believes that Obama will take executive action after the midterm election to grant amnesty to millions of additional illegal aliens, even though many of them already are safe from deportation under Obama's policies.
“The government of the United States no longer wants to deport people from the interior without criminal records,” Rosenberg said. “What that means in practicality is that the threat of deportation over the vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States has been lifted.”
Rosenberg argued that many illegal immigrants who are in the U.S. do not face deportation because of the Obama’s administration's “prosecutorial discretion” guidelines, issued in 2011 by the Department of Homeland Security. That policy put a priority on deporting “criminal aliens.”
Then in 2012, President Obama went around Congress again with his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which bestowed temporary legal status on certain illegal aliens brought to the country as children.
“In many ways, the very significant thing that’s happened...is essentially the ending of the deportation of people in the interior without criminal records, which is by far and away the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States,” Rosenberg said. “That’s already happened.”
Rosenberg said the number of noncriminal illegal aliens deported under Obama has “plummeted,” with only tens of thousands of noncriminal aliens inside the United States deported last year compared with “hundreds of thousands” in previous years.
He cited a report released this year by the liberal Migration Policy Institute – one of the hosts of the conference – showing a decline of non-criminal deportations in the United States during the Obama administration. That report says interior removals of noncriminals fell sharply under the Obama administration, from 77,000 (43 percent) in FY 2009 to 17,000 (13 percent) in FY 2013.
Even when a social worker challenged Rosenberg in the question and answer portion of the event, he said while some illegal aliens without criminal records will get “caught up in a system,” the vast majority will not.
“Both of these can be true – that the government is trying really, really hard to stop deporting people from the interior of the country who don’t have criminal records and that there are still too many people that you’re coming across in your social service work, that are getting caught up in a system that is going through change,” Rosenberg said.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statistics, ICE conducted 133,551 removals of individuals who made it into the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2013; 82 percent of those interior removals, or 110,115, had previously been convicted of a crime.
ICE conducted another 235,093 removals of people detained at the border; 59 percent of them, or 106,695, were criminals.
ICE says it removed a total of 151,834 individuals without a criminal conviction in Fiscal 2013; 84 percent of them, or 128,398, were apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the U.S. and 95 percent fell within one of ICE's other immigration enforcement priorities, such as posing a threat to national security or belonging to gangs.