The Immigration Subcommittee today voted to authorize House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to issue a subpoena to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for a list of illegal and criminal immigrants the agency has declined to detain or place in removal proceedings. Chairman Smith asked for this information in August. But to date, DHS has not provided the requested information. The Immigration Subcommittee voted 7-4 to authorize the subpoena. Chairman Smith plans to issue the subpoena this week.
Chairman Smith: "Over two months ago, I sent DHS a written request for information about removable illegal and criminal immigrants who have not been detained or placed in removal proceedings. The Administration is obviously not acting in good faith and is wrongfully trying to keep crucial information from the American people. They are on the verge of obstructing the legitimate role of Congress.
"Why does DHS want to hide this information? Why won't they provide Congress with these documents? Are administration officials afraid that the information will show that illegal immigrants intentionally released by ICE have committed crimes that could have been prevented?
"The American people have a right to know what crimes these 300,000 illegal immigrants committed after ICE intentionally chose not to detain them. The Administration has a decision to make: will they be open and honest or will they continue to hide information crucial to the health and safety of the American people?"
On August 22, 2011, Chairman Smith wrote to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting a list of the criminal immigrants flagged by Secure Communities but intentionally have not been removed. DHS originally stated they would be able to provide the information, but to date DHS has not given Chairman Smith the list as promised. Instead, DHS only provided general information on the Secure Communities program.
Last week, Secretary Napolitano testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding DHS oversight. During the hearing, Chairman Smith again requested the information and gave DHS a deadline for Monday, October 31 by 10:00 a.m. Chairman Smith stated if the information was not provided by DHS, he would have no choice but to issue a subpoena.
Background on Secure Communities: The Secure Communities program keeps our neighborhoods safe by identifying illegal and criminal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted. But the Obama administration recently made changes to Secure Communities that could open the door to allow millions of illegal and criminal immigrants to avoid current immigration laws.
Specifically, the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued two memos to agency officials on how to exercise blanket "prosecutorial discretion," such as granting deferred action, deciding whom to stop, question, arrest, or detain, and dismissing a removal proceeding. While this authority is justifiable when exercised responsibly, the Obama administration has used it recklessly.
DHS officials also recently announced that its newly created working group will begin a case-by-case review of illegal immigrants in removal proceedings and with a final order of removal to determine if those individuals should be removed at the agency's discretion.