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Smith on Pilot Program Results: Backdoor Amnesty Only Works for Illegal Immigrants


Location: Washington, DC

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released preliminary data on the administrative amnesty pilot programs in Baltimore and Denver which shows thousands of illegal immigrants who are deportable can remain in the United States and apply for work authorization.

Specifically, the data shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys reviewed 3,759 cases in Baltimore and recommended that 366, or nearly 10%, of those cases be administratively closed. And in Denver, ICE reviewed 7,923 cases and recommended that 1,301, or 16%, of those cases be administratively closed. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement in response to the results of the pilot programs.

Chairman Smith: "The results from the pilot programs show that President Obama's backdoor amnesty only works for illegal immigrants, not Americans. Nearly 2,000 illegal and criminal immigrants in Denver and Baltimore have been granted backdoor amnesty that allows them to remain in the U.S. and apply for work authorization. And this administration routinely grants work authorization to 90% of illegal immigrants when their cases have been administratively closed.

"If these results play out nationwide, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants will benefit and tens of thousands of Americans will find it harder to get jobs. How can the Obama administration justify granting work authorization to illegal immigrants 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 administration should put the interests of American workers first and cease its plan to roll out backdoor amnesty across the United States."

Background: In November, 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, DHS political appointees have 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. The new deportation guidance also states that ICE may administratively close asylum cases where the immigrants makes a joint request to close. Although it is estimated that a large percentage of asylum applications are fraudulent, these individuals are eligible for work authorization.

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