Senators again ask administration if plans are underway for large-scale de facto amnesty
WASHINGTON -- In response to the administration's silence and lack of a denial, Senator Chuck Grassley and 11 other senators again have asked top government officials if the Obama administration has plans, as has been rumored, to unilaterally extend either "deferred action" or "parole" to millions of illegal immigrants in the United States. The senators are asking the Secretary of Homeland Security to reveal how many times the department has used its discretionary authority to let people who are illegally in the country to stay. This authority is meant to be used only in unusual, emergent or humanitarian circumstances.
"The administration has yet to answer our letter about reports that it may be planning a large-scale, de facto amnesty program through deferred action and parole. By shedding a little light on the numbers, we're working to get to the bottom of the administration's plans," Grassley said. "If it wants to claim that discretionary authority is being used on a case-by-case basis, then let's determine if these cases are truly meritorious."
The letter was signed by Grassley, Thad Cochran, Johnny Isakson, Jim DeMint, Saxby Chambliss, Jim Inhofe, Tom Coburn, David Vitter, Orrin Hatch, Jim Bunning, Pat Roberts and Jeff Sessions.
Here is a copy of the text of today's letter, followed by the unanswered June 21 letter.
July 26, 2010
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
Nebraska Avenue Complex
245 Murray Lane, Mailstop 0150
Washington, DC 20528-0150
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
We remained concerned about potential plans for a large-scale effort to offer parole or to defer action on undocumented aliens in the United States. We realize that deferred action and parole are discretionary actions reserved for individual cases that present unusual, emergent or humanitarian circumstances. However, we do not believe that such actions should be used for a large population of illegal aliens or used to bypass Congress and the legislative process.
News articles report that your department has denied the charge, stating that grants of parole or deferred removal are based on the merits of individual cases. While we have not personally been assured that plans have not been drawn up, we are interested in data that will guarantee the American people that the Administration is not using these discretionary actions in cases that are not urgent or based on humanitarian reasons.
Therefore, we seek the following information about how the department is using its authorities. Specifically, we would like answers to the following questions no later than August 16:
· How many removal actions have been deferred each year over the past 5 years, including calendar year 2010, to date?
· How many times has parole been granted each year over the past 5 years, including calendar year 2010, to date?
· Of those granted deferred action or parole in the past five years, including 2010, how many have been provided work authorizations? In what circumstances are work authorizations not granted?
· What guidelines and procedures are in place when the department considers using its discretionary power to defer action or grant parole? Please describe the process from the initial request to the final approval, and please provide a copy of the written policies that employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Customs and Border Protection must follow.
Finally, in order to ensure that deferred action and parole are being used in a manner consistent with the law, we request to be notified in writing when the Administration defers removal action or grants parole to undocumented, deportable or inadmissible aliens. We would further request a summary of the case and the rationale for using the discretionary action. In that vein, we would like a summary (including demographic background) of the cases that so far have been approved in calendar year 2010.
We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
June 21, 2010
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
We understand that there's a push for your Administration to develop a plan to unilaterally extend either deferred action or parole to millions of illegal aliens in the United States. We understand that the Administration may include aliens who have willfully overstayed their visas or filed for benefits knowing that they will not be eligible for a status for years to come. We understand that deferred action and parole are discretionary actions reserved for individual cases that present unusual, emergent or humanitarian circumstances. Deferred action and parole were not intended to be used to confer a status or offer protection to large groups of illegal aliens, even if the agency claims that they look at each case on a "case-by-case" basis.
While we agree our immigration laws need to be fixed, we are deeply concerned about the potential expansion of deferred action or parole for a large illegal alien population. While deferred action and parole are Executive Branch authorities, they should not be used to circumvent Congress' constitutional authority to legislate immigration policy, particularly as it relates to the illegal population in the United States.
The Administration would be wise to abandon any plans for deferred action or parole for the illegal population. Such a move would further erode the American public's confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books.
We would appreciate receiving a commitment that the Administration has no plans to use either authority to change the current position of a large group of illegal aliens already in the United States, and ask that you respond to us about this matter as soon as possible.