Many citizens in the cities of Baltimore and Denver might be surprised to learn that they provided a “testing ground” for the Obama administration’s dangerous (and unlawful) policy of suspending the deportations of illegal aliens last year.
But that’s exactly what happened. And Judicial Watch has initiated an investigation of the matter. On June 11, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking records pertaining to this six-week pilot program designed to test the Obama administration’s new “standards” for the dismissal of immigration charges against certain illegal aliens. The Obama administration tested the program first in the cities of Baltimore, Maryland, and Denver, Colorado, beginning on December 4, 2011.
Here’s what we’re after specifically pursuant to our original November 23, 2011, FOIA request to the Executive Office of Immigration Review (“EOIR”), a component of the DOJ:
i. Any and all records regarding, concerning or related to the six-week pilot program in Baltimore and Denver that is scheduled to begin on December 4, 2011 and under which the immigration-related charges against certain undocumented residents may be subject to dismissal. This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all policy guidelines, implementation plans, training materials, and directives regarding the pilot program.
ii. Any and all records of communication between any official, employee or representative of the Executive Office for Immigration Review and any official, employee or representative of any other government agency, office or department (including, but not limited to, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Executive Office of the President, the City of Baltimore, and the City of Denver) regarding concerning or related to the pilot program.
The DOJ acknowledged receiving our FOIA request on November 28, 2011, and was required by law to respond by January 11, 2012, at the latest. As of the date of our lawsuit, however, the Obama administration has failed to turn over any records responsive to the request, indicate which records are exempt from disclosure, or notify Judicial Watch when a response is forthcoming.
And so, we filed a lawsuit to prod them into action.
If you’ve been reading this space for some time, you know that this “suspended deportation” controversy has been unfolding now for over two years.
It all began on June 30, 2010, when John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent a memo to all ICE employees instructing local immigration officials to use their discretion in “prioritizing” illegal immigration deportation cases. (The memo was leaked to the press and caused a massive uproar.)
On June 17, 2011, John Morton followed up with another memo to all field officers, special agents and to the chief counsel further defining the term “prosecutorial discretion,” which, in essence, asked immigration officials to focus deportation proceedings on illegal aliens convicted of crimes. However, Judicial Watch uncovered documents proving immigration officials considered suspending the deportation of illegal aliens convicted of violent crimes.
In November 2011, as reported by CNN, the Obama administration announced that on December 4, 2011, it would begin a pilot program in Baltimore and Denver to “test the process for reviewing cases pending before the immigration court.” Details regarding this program were sparse, prompting JW’s investigation.
The Obama administration has been playing games with its immigration policy from the beginning in its attempt to evade Congress and implement illegal alien amnesty. First, Obama administration officials tried to implement stealth amnesty outside of the public eye and then, when the cat was out of the bag, they doubled down on the policy in open defiance of the law. (An alien who fails to register after 30 days with ICE and keep registration papers on their person is in criminal violation of the law – and can be jailed for up to 30 days - in addition to being deported. This administration is ignoring and condoning this mass criminality.) We know that any number of illegal aliens who receive “get out of jail free cards” from the Obama administration will go on to commit additional crimes, including murder. Obama’s stealth amnesty and sanctuary policies will result in the killing of innocent Americans as surely as night follows day.
And on Friday, June 15, 2012, the Obama administration announced it would no longer deport unlawfully present immigrants under age 30 who came to the United States as children, a policy described by Politico’s Steve Friess as “a temporary, de facto implementation of a part of the stalled DREAM Act,” that sends “a loud message to Hispanic voters to remember Obama in November.”
The American people are tired of the obfuscation and gamesmanship from the Obama administration on such a serious issue: especially when they can plainly see this is all for political purposes. The message to the Obama administration is simple: No more secrecy. No more games. Obey the law. Release the records.