While it is being reported that presidential executive actions blamed for the current surge in young illegal aliens began in 2011, the Obama administration began suspending deportations a year earlier.
The Obama administration issued two interagency directives in 2010 that prioritized the removal of certain illegal aliens above others and set the tone for prosecutorial discretion. The move coincided with a considerable increase in illegal aliens from Central American countries other than Mexico.
A Breitbart.com timeline indicated President Obama’s executive actions on immigration began in 2011 with his announcement of “prosecutorial discretion.” A few months later, Breitbart reported, the U.S. Border Patrol documented “the first uptick in unaccompanied children at the border.”
However, the book “Impeachable Offenses: The case for removing Barack Obama from office,” by Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott, cites evidence from the White House itself that Obama and the White House were directly behind the 2010 interagency directives.
And the first recent uptick of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America reportedly took place not in 2011 but in 2010, with 4,444 arriving that year. The total was up from 3,294 the year before, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
The 2010 increase is not even the first noticeable uptick. WND reported last month on an 86 percent increase in the number of illegal aliens crossing from Central America who were not from Mexico dating back to 1999.
That surge followed President Bill Clinton’s temporary unilateral suspension of some deportations as a humanitarian gesture after the devastating Hurricane Mitch in October 1998. Clinton’s edict temporarily suspended deportations of illegal aliens to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua until Jan. 7, 1999, at the earliest. Those countries were hardest hit by the natural disaster.
Meanwhile, the Breitbart timeline reports Obama’s executive actions began “in 2011 with his announcement of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ on deportations.”
While that was the first such announcement directly from the White House, the Obama administration one year earlier released a series of interagency memos that suspended deportations via John Morton, then an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
There is evidence the White House directed Morton’s actions.
Breitbart.com reports: “A year earlier in June 2011, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released the so-called Morton memos.”
In actuality, the so-called Morton memos started in 2010, not June 2011.
The first of two “Priority Memos” on immigration enforcement policies was issued by Morton June 30, 2010.
Morton set the removal of “aliens” who posed a “danger to national security” as the highest priority. Priority 1 illegal immigrants were those who are/were either engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage or “who otherwise pose a danger to national security” or had been convicted of crimes, with a “particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders.” It also included aliens 16 years of age and older who had participated in organized criminal gangs, were subject to outstanding criminal warrants and who otherwise posed a “serious risk to public safety.”
A second Morton memo followed Aug. 20, 2010. It narrowly addressed the “processing of certain cases in the immigration courts.” In particular, it focused on illegal immigrants who “simultaneously [had] an application or petition for legal status pending before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while facing removal proceedings in immigration court.”
The memo instructed ICE attorneys to “dismiss removal proceedings” for the thousands of people who had applications or petitions pending with USCIS and who would be eligible for “adjustment of status to permanent residence upon approval of the petition.”
The memo also instructed ICE attorneys to “expedite approval of applications or petitions by USCIS even where proceedings [were] not terminated.”
Drawing from his previous memos, Morton issued a third on June 17, 2011, which instructed all field officers, special field agents in charge and chief counsel to exercise prosecutorial discretion with civil immigration enforcement priorities in the apprehension, detention and removal of illegals.
Included were broad new factors his staff was to consider: an illegal’s “contributions to the community, including family relationships; the person’s age, with particular consideration given to minors and the elderly; whether the person or the person’s spouse is pregnant or nursing.” Among scores of other disqualifications for removal, the instructions also included a mandate for leniency for “individuals present in the United States since childhood and individuals with serious health conditions.”
Obama’s guiding hand
Klein and Elliott confirm in “Impeachable Offenses” that Obama was the guiding hand behind Morton’s “prosecutorial discretion” memo, pointing to an Aug. 18, 2011, post on the White House blog written by Cecelia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
“There are more than 10 million people who are in the U.S. illegally; it’s clear that we can’t deport such a large number. So the administration has developed a strategy to make sure we use those resources in a way that puts public safety and national security first,” she wrote.
“Under the president’s direction, for the first time ever the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the removal of people who have been convicted of crimes in the United States,” Muñoz stated.
Muñoz showed the Obama administration clearly favored “dreamers.” Among those ranked at a lower priority for deportation she said were “young people who were brought to this country as small children, and who know no other home” and “military veterans and the spouses of active-duty military personnel.”
“The umbilical cord between the White House and DHS and ICE – and illegal immigrant ‘dreamers’ – could not be more obvious,” argued Klein and Elliott.
In August 2011, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a two-pronged initiative to limit deportations to people deemed by her department as most dangerous to the country, rather than on the whole general population of millions of illegal aliens.
The Obama administration, she said, would limit deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis for illegals who met certain criteria, such as attending school, having family members in the military or having primary responsibility for other family members’ care.