Yes, I know that illegal immigrants are criminals because they broke our immigration laws, but today I want to make a distinction between run-of-the-mill illegal immigrants and hardened criminals who commit violent felonies like murder and rape.
The illegal immigration lobby tells us “undocumented workers” are wonderful, hard-working people who only want to take care of their families (but not necessarily to learn English). That’s true for most of the 11-plus million illegal immigrants living and working in our country. But there’s another side to this mostly positive story that involves illegal immigrants who commit felonies only to be released back onto the streets of American cities by President Obama’s Justice Department and his Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
The truth is Justice and ICE, which are charged with enforcing our immigration laws, are engaging in selective enforcement of those laws, thereby proving themselves to be unable or unwilling to enforce those laws, probably with encouragement from the White House. Which is why bombastic Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has ignited a political firestorm by criticizing the Obama administration on the immigration issue.
Although I’m not a Trump supporter, I agree with him when he says the president and the federal government should crack down on illegal immigration with special attention to criminal aliens. Contrary to what illegal immigration advocates tell us, a small but significant segment of the illegal population is committing serious crimes, and getting away with it more often than not. This needs to stop.
According to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released 36,000 violent criminal aliens convicted of crimes like aggravated assault, rape, drug trafficking and murder back onto American streets in 2013. And moreover, 121 illegal immigrants who were being held for deportation after being charged with homicide-related (that’s murder, folks) crimes were released on bond between 2010 and 2014, and many of them re-offended. No amount of warm, fuzzy PR can change those disturbing facts.
In a recent letter to Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Grassley and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), questioned the officials about DHS’s “catch and release” policy, which decrees when violent illegals are arrested they are put back on our streets if their home countries won’t take them back. Obviously, this policy is extremely demoralizing to conscientious DHS and Border Patrol officers who are trying to enforce our immigration laws.
That’s why I was so disappointed last month when the Senate rejected “Kate’s Law,” which would have mandated five years in prison for any undocumented alien who returns to the U.S. after being deported. The law is named after 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was gunned down on the San Francisco waterfront in July by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times and convicted of seven felonies. He was on the streets because San Francisco is a “sanctuary city” in clear violation of federal immigration laws.
Just as President Obama’s Justice Department refuses to enforce our nation’s drug laws — think “medical” marijuana — it also engages in selective enforcement of our immigration laws. That’s why I favor presidential candidates like Chris Christie and Donald Trump who promise to enforce all federal laws with no exceptions. If you don’t like certain laws, urge Congress to change them.
Senator Grassley says he’s heard from several ICE whistleblowers who claim they’re told not to do their job of apprehending and deporting illegal immigrants. Instead, Grassley asserts, “They’re instructed to ignore our (immigration) laws . . . thereby violating their constitutional oath to faithfully execute the laws of this country.”
Guy W. Farmer, a retired U.S. diplomat, is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.