Carv­ing out traf­fic crimes could stop 50,000 de­por­ta­tions a year

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

As many as 50,000 il­le­gal im­mi­grants a year could be al­lowed to re­main in the U.S. if Pres­i­dent Obama de­cides that traf­fic crimes no longer rise to the level of de­por­ta­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port be­ing re­leased Tues­day by the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies.

The re­port comes as all sides in the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate look ahead to Novem­ber, after the con­gres­sional elec­tions, when Mr. Obama has vowed to take more steps to halt de­por­ta­tions — and ad­vo­cates have pressed for him to stop de­port­ing those con­victed of what ac­tivists say are mi­nor crimes.

The Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which ad­vo­cates for a crack­down in im­mi­gra­tion laws, said many of those lesser of­fenses are just the tip of more se­ri­ous crimes, so ex­cus­ing the traf­fic crimes could mean let­ting killers re­main in the U.S.

“If Mr. Obama gives amnesty to il­le­gal aliens with ‘traf­fic of­fenses,’ know that more Americans will be killed by th­ese same il­le­gal alien of­fend­ers,” said Maria Espinoza, na­tional di­rec­tor of the Re­mem­brance Project, which draws at­ten­tion to Americans killed by il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“This would be an out­rage and in­com­pre­hen­si­ble to all Americans, es­pe­cially those fam­i­lies whose loved one was killed by an il­le­gal alien with prior traf­fic of­fenses,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to the cen­ter’s cal­cu­la­tions, 49,997 im­mi­grants with traf­fic-re­lated crim­i­nal con­vic­tions were deported in 2011, 48,490 were re­moved in 2012, and 39,277 were kicked out last year.

Of those, more than 20,000 each year were con­victed of drunken driv­ing, more than 2,000 were con­victed of hit-and-run, and about five dozen were con­victed of car­jack­ing.

The majority of im­mi­grants be­ing deported for traf­fic crimes had been deported at least once be­fore, mean­ing they were kicked out and yet man­aged to sneak back into the U.S., ac­cord­ing to the cen­ter’s num­bers.

De­por­ta­tions have be­come the chief flash­point in the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate as Mr. Obama has sought to set new pri­or­i­ties for who gets kicked out.

In 2012, he be­gan his “de­ferred ac­tion” pro­gram, which stopped de­port­ing so-called dream­ers, the young adult il­le­gal im­mi­grants brought to the U.S. as chil­dren. Now ac­tivists want him to ex­pand that pro­gram to in­clude their il­le­gal im­mi­grant par­ents, the il­le­gal im­mi­grant par­ents of U.S. cit­i­zens and those con­victed of mi­nor crimes or of­fenses re­lated only to im­mi­gra­tion law.

The pres­i­dent had im­posed an end-of­sum­mer dead­line on him­self for tak­ing ac­tion but put that on hold in the face of a po­ten­tial voter back­lash, which could have cost his party Se­nate seats in the Novem­ber elec­tions.

Over the week­end, the White House press sec­re­tary promised Span­ish-lan­guage net­work Tele­mu­ndo that Mr. Obama will act be­fore the end of the year.

More than 11 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants are es­ti­mated to re­side in the U.S., and most of them face lit­tle ac­tual dan­ger of be­ing deported, though only those granted spe­cial ten­ta­tive sta­tus, such as the dream­ers, have been given per­mits en­abling them to live and work freely.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, last week pre­dicted that Mr. Obama’s de­lay un­til after the elec­tion frees him up to be more gen­er­ous than he would have been had he acted be­fore the elec­tion.

“What he said was he wanted to do it right, and so I think do­ing right means do­ing as much as pos­si­ble,” she told NBC News.

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