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DHS's Priority Enforcement Program More Like "Pretend Enforcement Program," Says FAIR
Washington, DC, Aug. 4 - In an effort to further ensure that most immigration law violators, including many criminal aliens, are allowed to remain in the United States, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson scrapped the effective Secure Communities Program last November. In its place, DHS is implementing the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which will limit the identification and removal of criminal aliens to those who meet the Obama administration's own narrowly defined priorities for removal.
"PEP is not about setting priorities for which illegal aliens should be deported. It is about ensuring that the vast majority of illegal aliens will be excluded from removal," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "Under this administration, enforcement against illegal aliens who have not been convicted of other crimes has virtually ceased. Under PEP, the majority of illegal aliens who have been convicted of other offenses will also be exempted from removal." According to the pro-amnesty Migration Policy Institute, administration policies now place 87 percent of illegal aliens off-limits to enforcement.
PEP has been slammed by law enforcement professionals as ineffective and a threat to community safety. Leading members of the National Sheriffs Association (NSA), an umbrella group representing America's elected law enforcement officers, are conducting public education and media briefings this week to "discuss the repercussions of the DHS-Priority Enforcement Program and lack of enforcement and data coordination by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)."
Among criminal alien offenders who will not be targeted for removal by ICE under PEP include drunk drivers, sex abusers, drug dealers, and gun offenders. "Prioritizing the removal of the most dangerous and violent criminal aliens should not mean exempting all other immigration lawbreakers from enforcement. The administration is using the pretense of focusing on hardened criminals to advance its real priority: granting de facto amnesty to the vast majority of illegal aliens," said Stein.
While immigration enforcement should prioritize the removal of those who pose the greatest danger to public safety and national security, such policies should not grant blanket exemptions to other illegal aliens. "Any illegal alien who is identified should be subject to removal, as prescribed by law. And certainly any alien who has been arrested and charged with any crime should be removed from the country, not returned to the streets.
"The administration's program is not priority enforcement; it's pretend enforcement. PEP is a program clearly designed to further the president's goal of making immigration violations inconsequential," Stein concluded.
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group. With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest. Visit FAIR's website at www.fairus.org.