For patriots knowledgeable of the Immigration & Nationality Act, such as immigration judges, ICE attorneys, and litigators who fight for greater immigration enforcement like myself, the day President Obama told the American public he would “re-prioritize” the statute’s mandatory removal provisions was one of astonished disbelief that still endures.
Nowhere in the Act did Congress give the President the authority to “re-prioritize” illegal alien and criminal alien-removals. The INA is a deterring statute and it’s been continuously amended to better deter illegal immigration since it was originally enacted in 1952.
As the results of the 2012 and 2014 “executive actions” show, re-entries and recidivism among convicted criminal aliens (legal and illegal aliens convicted of crimes) has spiked and, as a result, we’re pushing deeper and deeper into immigration anarchy. Unsurprisingly, Obama’s lawlessness is leading to ever greater lawlessness.
According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, ICE agents reported encountering 382,000 convicted criminal aliens (legal and illegal aliens convicted of crimes) in FY2013 and FY2014. Of this figure, almost 100,000 were released from ICE custody back into our communities, some before deportation proceedings could even begin. A report from the Congressional Research Service from 2012 found that released criminal aliens generally had a 17% recidivism rate. For people outside upper class areas, especially those in the Border States, these aren’t just abstract figures.
Last summer, Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr. was murdered while with his wife and kids at “their favorite fishing spot” just outside Brownsville, Texas. His killer had not only been deported numerous times before the murder, but had been involved in an attempted rape in 2007. Grant Ronnebeck, a store clerk in Mesa, Arizona, was murdered by a criminal alien with a previous burglary conviction when he refused to count a jar of change the alien had attempted to use to buy cigarettes. The murderer had a burglary related conviction in 2012 which had rendered him deportable. These murders could have easily been prevented had our nation’s immigration laws been properly enforced.
Then there was the 19-year old Serbian-born Mirjana Puhar, a former contestant of “America’s Next Top Model” who was recently shot point-blank along with her boyfriend Jonathan Alvarado and their roommate Jusmar Gonzaga-Garcia while at their home in Charlotte. The killer, also 19, was listed on an FBI database as a member of the notorious Salvadorian MS-13 gang and had been in deportation proceedings in 2012 until he was “re-prioritized” under the President’s DACA program. A 17-year female illegal alien, and also a MS-13 gang member, was recently arrested in Maryland, along with 5 other illegal aliens, for the stabbing and beating-murder of Amos Jones, a black homeless man. Considering the girl’s age, whether she’s been released pending trial is probably likely.
In many of these serious criminal offenses, the alien at the heart of the crime had been previously deported. 39 percent of all removals in 2013 involved aliens who had previously been removed and half of all removals that year had criminal convictions. A number of them have been convicted of illegal re-entry after deportation, a federal crime. But they still keep coming back because enforcement’s become increasingly lax and the President’s amnesty programs keep expanding. The murderer of Agent Vega had at least two of these convictions. On July 9, 2007 he pled guilty to illegally entering the United States. He was fined $10 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. A few months later he was back in court charged with the same crime. This time he was charged with the same $10 fine, but he was given the stiffer sentence of 45 days in jail. Both of these cases followed his attempted rape of a US citizen woman in June 2007.
Despite what open-borders pushers say, our immigration problem is not how the law’s written; it’s how the law’s enforced. The release of convicted criminal aliens must stop. Sending signals to deported illegal aliens, whom are already lawbreakers, that re-entry will go unpunished and the current waves we see coming over the southern border will turn into a tsunami. It’s not our immigration laws that are “broken”; it’s our leadership that’s “broken.”
Dale Wilcox is the executive director of the Immigration Reform Law Institute.
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