As voters and candidates debate the issue of illegal immigration and immigration amnesty, a sharply increasing number of illegal immigrants are getting “amnesty” not through Congress but in the courtroom. The Houston Chronicle reports an increase of more than 700 percent in dismissals of immigration violation charges since the Department of Homeland Security started reviewing cases in the Houston federal courts.
According to data provided by the Executive Office for Immigration Review,which oversees the nation’s immigration court system, the number of dismissed immigration cases skyrocketed from 27 in July to 217 in August and 174 in September. The Houston Chronicle reports as follows.
“In early August, federal attorneys in Houston started filing unsolicited motions to dismiss cases involving suspected illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for years without committing serious crimes.
News of the dismissals, first reported in the Houston Chronicle in late August, caused a national controversy amid allegations that the Obama administration was implementing a kind of “backdoor amnesty” — a charge officials strongly denied.
The Houston Chronicle further reports that attorneys in the system are corroborating the story told by the statistics. The Houston Chronicle continues as follows.
In recent weeks, some immigration attorneys reported the dismissals have slowed somewhat, while others reported they now have to ask ICE trial attorneys to exercise prosecutorial discretion in order to have their cases dismissed. ”
The dismissal of charges against illegal immigration charges does not, however preclude the possibility of the federal government filing charges later.In order to qualify for the dismissal, defendants must not have any record of felony convictions or of certain misdemeanor charges involving DWI, sex crimes or domestic violence.
The de facto amnesty has its defenders. Many immigration lawyers and advocates of immigration reform cite the huge backlog of immigration cases, some of which are already being scheduled to be heard in 2012.
Why is the government effectively jumping over the bench and standing along side the defendants by filing motions for dismissal of charges in these cases? Why is there a sharp increase in dismissals of cases? New guidelines are being quietly circulated and the public has no knowledge of what they might be. Additionally, this lenient treatment in the courts sends a message to others who are contemplating illegal entry into the US that the Americans are not serious about enforcing their laws.
Americans can vote for leaders who share their views on immigration, but there is almost no recourse against judges who overturn or refuse to enforce the nation’s immigration laws. If this is what Americans want, let it be done through the legislature in open debate and not behind the closed doors of judicial chambers.