Napolitano: DHS Granted Deferred Action to Nearly 900 Illegal Aliens in 2010 (or maybe more)

March 21, 2011 08:05


Napolitano admitted that the agency granted deferred action to nearly 900 illegal aliens in Fiscal Year 2010. However, according to Secretary Napolitano’s own testimony, the final figure could be substantially higher as this estimate leaves out the number of illegal aliens granted deferred action for “humanitarian” reasons.

From FAIR

During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Hearing of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last Wednesday, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted that the agency granted deferred action to nearly 900 illegal aliens in Fiscal Year 2010. However, according to Secretary Napolitano’s own testimony, the final figure could be substantially higher as this estimate leaves out the number of illegal aliens granted deferred action for “humanitarian” reasons.

Deferred action status is what DHS grants when it decides, in its own discretion, not to remove an illegal alien. Those who receive deferred action usually also receive work authorization. There is no statutory basis for deferred action status, as it is merely referred to in the federal regulations (See, e.g. USCIS Ombudsman memo, Apr. 6, 2007 (citing 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(c)(14)). Even more troubling, deferred action is not subject to judicial review. (Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Comm., 525 U.S. 471, 484, 492 (1999)) One academic studying deferred action found that the greatest proportion of aliens granted deferred action status — at 47.2 percent — were those who had overstayed their visas. (Wildes, 41 San Diego L. Rev. at 827-28) The remaining aliens granted deferred action, according to the study, should have been deported or excluded from the U.S. due to reasons of “physical health” (25.4 percent), “entry without inspection” (16 percent), “insanity” (8.7 percent), and being an “immigrant without an immigrant visa” (2.7 percent).

Secretary Napolitano’s admission that DHS is quietly granting deferred action to hundreds, if not thousands of illegal aliens, came in response to questions from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee — regarding a leaked DHS memo dated February 26, 2010. In that memo, senior policy officials in the Department of Homeland Security suggested that Secretary Napolitano grant deferred action status to the nation’s illegal alien population in the face of Congress’ refusal to grant amnesty. (The American Spectator, Sept. 16, 2010; See also FAIR’s Legislative Update, Sept. 20, 2010) Stating that she was “unaware” that anyone in DHS was directed to draft such a memo, Secretary Napolitano remarked, “[I]n the department people come up with ideas. And that’s not a bad thing for people to be thinking . . . [but the memos] have never been acted upon, were never accepted and are not the policy or practice of the department.” Nonetheless, during the hearing Napolitano reaffirmed the Obama Administration’s commitment to amnesty, asking the Congress “to take up the overall issue of immigration” and stating we “think the law needs to be revised.”



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1 Comment

  • What’s getting lost in all the this is the fact that neither legacy INS nor ICE have ever targeted foreign born children for arrest and removal. The number of foreign born children removed from the U.S. over for years (decades/century) is extremely low, and of those removed, most merely accompanied parents who were rightfully deported. While the timing of the decision to grant deferred action clearly had political motives, the fact is that it has no negative impact on public safety or national security, and minimal impact on the labor market. It is a compassionate action that relieves the stress associated with being vulnerable to removal on otherwise law abiding and innocent children, and adults who accompanied their undocumented parents to the U.S. when children. What the President and Congress truly need to do is work collaboratively on reforming our entire immigration system as it is antiquated, inefficient, and ineffective, and no longer meets the needs of a modern America.

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