Judicial Watch • Stealth Amnesty

Stealth Amnesty Archives | Judicial Watch

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security lied to Congress and the media to cover up a secret amnesty program that dismissed the deportation of illegal immigrants across theU.S., including those with criminal convictions.The scandalous story of how the government agency charged with keeping America safesystematically cancels pending deportations was first reported by Texas’s largest newspaper last year. The remarkable program stunned the legal profession and baffled immigration attorneys who say the government bounced their clients’ deportation even when expulsion was virtually guaranteed.After the story broke other media outlets began to dig around and Senate leaders launched an investigation into the stealth amnesty program that led to a 40% increase in the dismissal of deportations last year. Homeland Security officials denied it existed and scrambled to conceal details, according to new information revealed by the newspaper that originally cracked the story.Internal Homeland Security documents obtained under public records laws prove that agency officials destroyed internal memos of the secretive process and lied to cover up the wrongdoing. Through a spokesman, one Texas Senator involved in the probe confirmed that DHS misled the public and Congress about its policy of directing dismissals of cases against criminal aliens.Some of the records are heavily redacted, but it’s clear that illegal immigrants with criminal records were spared removal under the program, which was administered by high-ranking officials and attorneys at DHS.In one internal email, a chief council at one agency branch blames the media for falling behind on the number of deportations his office discharged. “The problem is every time I’m about to wield a blunt instrument to our docket, some case shows up in the press that gives me pause,” he writes in an internal electronic mail.The same chief council also praises his counterpart in another busy immigration office—inMiami Florida—for leading the way on dismissals of deportations and lamenting that his office had “fallen way behind.”Judicial Watch has also investigated this deplorable back-door amnesty program and earlier this year sued DHS to obtain information because the agency ignored a federal public records request that dates back to July 2010.

Obama Administration Reportedly Implementing Policies that Grant Legal Status to Illegal Aliens without Approval of Congress

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Washington, DC — March 29, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to obtain records detailing the Obama administration’s alleged plan to grant legal status to illegal aliens without going through Congress, a strategy commonly known as “stealth amnesty.” Specifically, Judicial Watch is investigating an alleged plan by the Obama administration to suspend deportations of illegal aliens who are in the country unlawfully (Judicial Watch v. US Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-604) and Judicial Watch v. US Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-606)).
On July 2, 2010, Judicial Watch sent a FOIA request to DHS seeking the following information: “Any and all records of communications between the Department of Homeland Security and any of the following entities, concerning ‘deferred action’ or ‘parole’ to suspend removal proceedings against a particular individual or group of individuals for a specific timeframe; as well as records of communications concerning ‘selective reprieve’ to the segment of the population holding expired visas: The White House; The Executive Office of the President; Any third parties.” Judicial Watch sought internal DHS communications regarding “deferred action or parole” as well.On August 30, 2010, Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to DHS seeking the following information:

  • Any and all records of, and/or records concerning, Department of Homeland Security briefings regarding a systematic review of pending immigration cases against suspected illegal immigrants in Houston, Texas.
  • Any and all records of general guidelines issued to Department of Homeland Security attorneys, allowing dismissal of pending immigration cases.
  • Any and all records detailing the determination and implementation of a systematic review of pending immigration cases against suspected illegal immigrants in Houston, Texas.
  • Any and all correspondence with non-governmental organizations…concerning the process for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to give consideration of possible dismissal of pending immigration cases.

DHS acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests. However, to date, the agency has failed to provide responsive documents. DHS has not indicated when a response will be forthcoming. In both cases, DHS has failed to respond in the statutory allotted timeframe precipitating Judicial Watch’s lawsuits. (Reporting by The Associated Press suggests that DHS political appointees have improperly delayed FOIA requests on politically sensitive topics.)The Obama administration has been heavily criticized for their alleged plan to bypass Congress and enact “stealth amnesty.” In June 2010, the press uncovered a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service “draft” memo that outlined ways to grant legalization to illegal aliens without going through Congress.The August 24, 2010, edition of The Houston Chronicle reported the government had already put one such plan into action: “The Department of Homeland Security is systematically reviewing thousands of pending immigration cases and moving to dismiss those filed against suspected illegal immigrants who have no serious criminal records…Culling the immigration court system dockets of noncriminals started in earnest in Houston about a month ago and has stunned local immigration attorneys, who have reported coming to court anticipating clients’ deportations only to learn that the government was dismissing the cases.”Despite evidence to the contrary, Obama claimed on Monday, March 28, 2011, that he does not have a plan in place to suspend deportations. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president,” Obama said.“President Obama may deny he has a plan to suspend deportations but the experience of immigration attorneys in Houston suggests otherwise. That’s why it’s critical that Homeland Security follows the open records FOIA law and turns over these records. The American people need to know if the Obama administration has decided to flout our immigration laws and enact stealth amnesty for illegal aliens who are unlawfully here in the United States. The stonewalling by the ‘transparent’ Obama administration suggests it has something to hide,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.

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