DHS' New Guidelines on Deporting Illegals: Longtime Aliens, Some Criminals Get Special Consideration

Penny Starr | December 9, 2014 | 9:41am EST
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(CNSNews.com) – On Nov. 20, the same day President Barack Obama announced executive action to shield millions of illegal aliens from deportation, Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson issued an agency-wide memorandum explaining new guidelines for enforcing the nation’s immigration laws -- or not enforcing them based on a wide range of “circumstances.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke about the U.S. government response to the growing number of youth crossing the border illegally on June 12, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Those guidelines are receiving minimal media attention but, coupled with the president's executive action mean that "immigration law is now meaningless," said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies. "This gives nearly the entire population of illegal aliens a free pass to stay, even if they have had run-ins with the law."

All of this will result in "more illegal immigration, and American communities will continue to be burdened by this problem," said Vaughan.

The DHS six-page document, issued on Nov. 20, states in Section D, entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion,” that, "DHS personnel should consider factors such as extenuating circumstances involving the offense of conviction; extended length of time since the offense of conviction; length of time in the United States; military service; family or community ties in the United States; status as a victim, witness or plaintiff in civil or criminal proceedings; or compelling humanitarian factors such as poor health, age, pregnancy, a young child, or a seriously ill relative."

The section concludes stating that this list is not “exhaustive” and that “decisions should be based on the totality of circumstances.”

The memorandum, which goes into effecton Jan. 5, 2015, states that it “reflects new policies for the apprehension, detention, and removal of aliens in this country. This memorandum should be considered department-wide guidance, applicable to the activities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).”

“This memorandum should inform enforcement and removal activity, detention decisions, budget requests an execution, and strategic planning,” it states.

President Barack Obama signs two presidential memoranda associated with his actions on immigration in his office on Air Force One as he arrives at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, before traveling to Del Sol High School to speaks about the steps he will be taking on immigration. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“In the immigration context,” the memo says, “prosecutorial discretions should apply not only to the decision to issue, serve, file, or cancel a Notice to Appear, but also to a broad range of other discretionary enforcement decision, including deciding: whom to stop, question, and arrest; whom to detain or release; whether to settle, dismiss, appeal, or join in a motion on a case; and whether to grant deferred action, parole, or a stay of removal instead of pursuing removal in a case.”

"This part of the president’s executive action scheme has not received as much attention as the plan to issue millions of work permits, but is just as outrageous," said CIS's Jessica Vaughan.  "Essentially, the president is dismantling immigration enforcement, and stipulating that only those convicted of felonies and multiple misdemeanors can be deported, and sometimes not even then."

"This gives nearly the entire population of illegal aliens a free pass to stay, even if they have had run-ins with the law," said Vaughan. "All enforcement actions taken against illegal aliens before this year are now null and void – any prior orders of deportation must be ignored if the illegal alien is found here again. That is an open invitation to any illegal alien ever deported to come back, because they will not be prosecuted or removed again."

Jessica M. Vaughan, director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies. (Photo: CIS)

As has long been the policy of the Obama administration, the DHS guidance includes an explanation about prioritizing the removal of “criminal” illegal aliens, including those suspected of terrorism, aliens caught while crossing the U.S. border, and those convicted of certain felonies.

Criminal gang activity is also flagged but the guidance states that those convicted of a gang-related crime “or aliens not younger than 16 years of age who intentionally participated in an organized criminal gang to further the illegal activity of the gang” are a priority. But, apparently, illegal alien gang members under the age of 16 are not as equal a priority.

Under Section C, entitled “Detention,” the guidance discourages the practice for “aliens who are known to be suffering from serious physical or mental illness, who are disabled, elderly, pregnant, or nursing, who demonstrate they are primary caretakers of children or an infirm person, or whose detention is otherwise not in the public interest.”

Johnson also ordered the collection of data resulting from this guidance, which he states in the memorandum will be issued annually for public review.

"The administration is directing ICE officers to look the other way at illegal aliens who claim to have family members here, who claim to be ill, or who have strong ties to the community, whatever that means," CIS's Jessica Vaughan told CNSNews.com.  "Those who apply and fail to be approved for any immigration benefit like deferred action, or other legal or quasi-legal status will not face deportation either."

"Immigration law is now meaningless," she said.  "The inevitable result is that we will experience more illegal immigration, and American communities will continue to be burdened by this problem."

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