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.
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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