In defense of President Obama’s executive amnesty, the Department of Justice has argued in court that the policy is a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion. It claims that by deferring action on millions of illegal aliens, the Department of Homeland Security can “focus limited resources on higher priority aliens,” namely those who pose “threats to national security, border security, and public safety.”
However, as Hans von Spakovsky explains, a report by DHS Inspector General John Roth undercuts the Justice Department’s contention. The report, published on May 4, finds that the DHS “does not gather and analyze prosecutorial discretion data. . .” Thus it does not have the ability “to fully assess its current immigration enforcement activities and to develop future policy.”
In other words, the DHS isn’t collecting the information needed to focus its enforcement efforts on the most dangerous illegal immigrants. Thus, it’s difficult to take seriously Team Obama’s claim that the executive amnesty is being granted to enable the DHS to focus on these illegal immigrants. If the administration had any intention of so focusing, presumably the DHS would be gathering the data with which to do so.
The administration’s “prosecutorial discretion” argument is also undercut by the fact that the DHS currently refuses to deport large numbers of illegal immigrants it knows have committed serious crimes in the U.S. Von Spakovsky points to information released by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on April 14, 2015. It shows that ICE let loose on the American public 36,000 convicted criminal aliens in fiscal year 2013 and 30,558 in fiscal year 2014.
The offenders released included ones with convictions “involving dangerous drugs, assault and domestic violence, stolen vehicles, robbery, sex offenses, sexual assault, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, and even homicide.” In fact, “27 percent of the aliens released were so called ‘level 1s’ according to the Administration – the worst of the worst.”
In sum, not only is the DHS not collecting the data needed to exercise prosecutorial discretion, but it is releasing tens of thousands of dangerous aliens with full knowledge of their criminal convictions and criminal history. That, says von Spakovsky, is prosecutorial indiscretion of the worst kind.
The administration might respond that, relieved of enforcing the law against ordinary illegal immigrants, it will be able to collect better data and improve its enforcement record against dangerous aliens. The argument would be implausible.
The IG’s report points out that during the past two years, the relevant organizations with the DHS have received collectively about $21 billion annually. It can hardly be the case that the agency lacks the resources to engage in basic data collection needed to exercise meaningful prosecutorial discretion.
It seems clear, instead, that the prosecutorial discretion argument is simply a pretext being used to justify President Obama’s desire to deliver amnesty by fiat to a millions of illegal immigrants for ideological and political reasons.