Officials at U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that thousands of illegal immigrants have been identified as eligible to benefit from the Obama administration's backdoor amnesty directives. In total, ICE has reviewed 219,554 pending cases with 16,544 identified as eligible for prosecutorial discretion as of April 16, 2012. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement in response to these new statistics.
Chairman Smith: "President Obama's backdoor amnesty only benefits illegal immigrants, not Americans. Nearly 17,000 illegal and criminal immigrants across the U.S. have been identified by ICE to benefit from backdoor amnesty, which could allow them to remain in the U.S. and apply for work authorization. And this Administration routinely grants work authorization to 90% of illegal immigrants in similar circumstances.
"Unemployed Americans already have enough difficulty finding a job in this economy and the Obama administration's lack of immigration enforcement worsens their challenges. How can the Obama administration justify allowing illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S. when so many American citizens don't have jobs? Twenty-three million Americans who are unemployed or can't find full-time work must wonder why this administration puts illegal immigrants ahead of them. Citizens and legal immigrants should not be forced to compete with illegal workers for scarce jobs. The Obama administration should put the interests of the American people ahead of those who have broken our immigration laws."
Background: In November 2011, the Obama administration issued new deportation guidance instructing ICE attorneys to review all incoming and most pending cases before an immigration court. These changes could potentially allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. without a vote of Congress.
In reviewing the cases, the Obama administration has made clear that many illegal immigrants are not considered "priorities" for removal, including potential DREAM Act beneficiaries, an illegal immigrant who has had a long-term presence in the U.S., has an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen, and/or has compelling ties to the U.S.