Homeland Security to Focus on Deporting Criminals Under New Immigration Rules

Uploaded by PBSNewsHour on 19.08.2011

bjbjLULU JIM LEHRER: And to a new policy affecting thousands of illegal immigrants in the United
States. Ray Suarez has that story. RAY SUAREZ: The Obama administration has unveiled a significant
change regarding immigration policy in this country. Under the new rules, the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security will reassess some 300,000 deportation cases, in an effort to focus on
deporting criminals, while dismissing the cases of those illegal immigrants who pose
little threat to public safety. In addition, immigration officials will determine case
by case priority by considering how long someone has been in the country, their level of schooling,
any military service and their ties to the community. We get two different views on the
new rules from Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform,
and Angela Maria Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy for the Center
for American Progress. Well, Dan Stein, for the millions who are already here undocumented
without a right to be here, what's different as of today? DAN STEIN, Federation for American
Immigration Reform: Listen, I care about immigration. I care about my country. I care about our
constitutional framework, with its checks and balances, where Congress, with its plenary
authority, establishes who can come in, who can stay, and under what terms. The president
faithfully executes the laws of the land. That means carries out the law as passed by
Congress. In this new policy, which appears to potentially apply to millions and millions
of illegal immigrants, there appears to be no limit to the potential affirmative exercise
of discretion on behalf of illegal immigrants and giving them work authorization indefinitely.
This is a form of amnesty that -- that runs around the prerogatives of Congress to set
the terms of the law. And as much as -- whether you care or not, or whether you support amnesty
or want people to stay who you think are good people, you have to be concerned about the
broader issues here, which is that, if it doesn't matter what Congress says, if it doesn't
matter what laws Congress establishes, but the president and the administration can just
ignore it and let people stay, under the new policy, if you come in on a tourist visa to
go to Disneyland and you never leave, you're never going to be deported. RAY SUAREZ: Angela
Kelley, was President Obama within his rights, as the president and the head of the executive
branch, to do what he did? ANGELA MARIA KELLEY, Center for American Progress: Absolutely.
Look, the president, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, what
they announced is right out of enforcement -- law enforcement 101. It's that you're setting
priorities for who's to be removed. High-target removals still should be removed from the
U.S., people who are involved with drugs, with guns, with violence, people who have
criminal records. Of course, we want prioritize those people and remove them all. But any
law enforcement officer will tell you that you have to make priorities. You have to allocate
resources wisely. And that's simply what the administration has done. It's what other administrations
have done in the past. It's what all law enforcement agencies done -- have done. This isn't going
to be applied to millions of people. There's going to be careful scrutiny of cases that
have been backlogged in the courts for a long time and assessment: Is this person a low
risk? Do they have long ties to this country because they came as a child? Is this is a
person who has a family member who is serving in the military? If they are, that is not
going to be a priority for removal. If, however, you have someone who has a criminal record,
who poses a national security threat, then, of course we're going to accelerate and we're
going to focus on removing that person. I think that's smart policy. I think it's smart
law enforcement. RAY SUAREZ: You just heard Dan Stein call it amnesty. Is it? ANGELA MARIA
KELLEY: Of course it's not amnesty. I think Dan Stein will call anything an amnesty that
is not a mass deportation. Look, we have to make choices. We have 11 million people here
without papers, 11 million. That's the size of the population of Ohio. We can't just randomly
deport people without really focusing on those who mean to do us harm, those who have a criminal
record. That's something that the Obama administration has done vigorously. This administration is
on track -- they will have deported more people than the Bush administration and on track
to have deported one million people, 800,000 and counting. This is not a soft, easy-on-illegal-immigrant
policy. This is getting smarter about how we allocate taxpayer dollars. RAY SUAREZ:
This, as I understand it, affects those people who are already in the deportation process
at some stage or another. Is it smart to put criminals, as Angela Kelley suggests, further
up in the line out of the United States? DAN STEIN: Well, look, Ray, from the moment Napolitano
came into office, she started this canard that was begun in the Clinton administration
of saying, we're going to put our resources behind deporting criminal aliens, serious
felons, repeat violators, national security threats, as a political cover to essentially
suspend deportation and enforcement operations for everyone else. Naturally, we have had
a flood of illegal immigration as a result of the failure to enforce these laws. Now,
Angela says, well, we have got 11 million people here illegally. Hey, guess what? You
know, we must be doing something wrong. Now, the Obama administration repeatedly tried
to get an amnesty bill through Congress, hasn't been able to do it. Various smaller versions
-- still not able to do it. The president himself said he didn't have the discretion
to use various loopholes in the law to try to give work authorization and benefits without
Congress' authorization. Then he goes off to Martha's Vineyard, and, suddenly, we get
this announcement, OK, we're essentially telling everybody here illegally that if you don't
fit within these narrow classifications of serious, repeated, aggravated felon, national
security threat, you basically got thought to worry about. And if you are apprehended
somehow inadvertently by local police, and they turn you over to ICE, well, you're just
going to get released again. This is going to create an enforcement chaos nightmare.
We have no idea how many people we're talking about. Where are the resources going to come
from? If you start giving deferred action -- which is nowhere in the statute, by the
way -- deferred action to 300,000 or 100,000 people, where are the resources to review
those cases, screen them? In the internal memos considering this usurpation, they were
saying, we don't even know where the funding would come from this, so it's really not a
feasible approach. But now they're doing it anyway. In our view -- and I don't say this
lightly. I know some people like Angela think, well, we're too hard-hearted. We're truly
concerned about a breakdown in the integrity of this country's ability to control its borders
and determine who has the right to stay and who doesn't. That is what is at stake here,
far broader than the question of the 300,000 people right now in the deportation queue.
RAY SUAREZ: How do you answer Dan Stein's concerns? ANGELA MARIA KELLEY: We're concerned
about the same thing. We're concerned about having a coherence to our removal procedures
and policies. And I'm breathing a sigh of relief because I think this administration
is getting a handle on how to do that, by targeting the worst of the worst, rather than
deporting the best and the brightest, by being -- assessing that we have got limited resources.
These are tough economic times. Nobody has infinite resources -- and by targeting those
who mean to do us harm, those with criminal records and saying, you're going to be the
first in the queue to be removed, but not only that. The memo is also clear that this
isn't an open program that's going to protect everyone. It's very specific. We're talking
about people who have been in the U.S. as children. We're talking about people who have
a military spouse, some -- a close family member in the military. It's very narrow.
I think it's very smart and very targeted. But at the end of the day, the only way that
we're going to be getting to a real solution is if Congress steps up and acts. And there
has yet to be any will, particularly on the part of Republicans, to get behind a comprehensive
bill that would put resolution to what are we going to do about the 11 million people
who are here without status. RAY SUAREZ: Secretary Napolitano said, for her part, that this doesn't
give what she calls categorical relief to anybody... ANGELA MARIA KELLEY: Correct. RAY
SUAREZ: ... who is awaiting deportation. ANGELA MARIA KELLEY: Case-by-case determination.
RAY SUAREZ: But an official also said that this could lead to legal right to work in
the country if it is found that you are not one of those high-security-risk people. How
is that not amnesty? ANGELA MARIA KELLEY: So, for people who are among the 300,000 who
are the very lowest priority, those cases will be closed, and the person whose case
is closed will have an opportunity to apply for work authorization, time limited, so that
they can work in the country. It's not permanent residency. It doesn't permit them to travel.
It doesn't give them any permanent benefit. So, some will get that opportunity to be able
to work legally in the U.S., but that's it, no benefits, nothing else. And it's not even,
frankly, sure who will get that benefit. RAY SUAREZ: A very quick response, Dan. DAN STEIN:
Look, the American people have a right to have their fiscal integrity secured through
border and perimeter controls, whether it's good schools, health care, hospitals, our
job market. We have the right to compete in a fair labor market where illegal immigrants
are not working. The Obama administration seems to have abandoned any pretense of enforcing
U.S. immigration law in the interior. And any dry-eyed look at this analysis will tell
you Congress and the American people have been shoved out of the way, and the administration
has gone rogue. RAY SUAREZ: Dan Stein, Angela Kelley, thank you both. ANGELA MARIA KELLEY:
Thank you. DAN STEIN: Thank you. urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags country-region urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags
State urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags place JIM LEHRER: And to a new policy affecting
thousands of illegal immigrants in the United States Normal Microsoft Office Word JIM LEHRER:
And to a new policy affecting thousands of illegal immigrants in the United States Title
Microsoft Office Word Document MSWordDoc Word.Document.8