Photo: Newscom

Photo: Newscom

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R–Ala.) slams the Obama administration’s loosening of already lax enforcement of immigration laws in a report revealing that almost no illegal immigrant faced deportation last year in the absence of a criminal record.

In fact,  “99.92 percent of illegal immigrants and visa overstays without serious crime convictions or repeat immigration offenses did not face deportation” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, the report said.

Sessions’ report added:

Less than 0.2 percent of the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants and visa overstays who were not convicted of a serious criminal offense were placed in removal proceedings. Further, merely 0.08 percent of the 12 million who were not convicted of a serious crime or a repeat immigration offender were placed in removal proceedings.”

Criticizing the “executive amnesty” serving as “an open invitation for a future immigrant to overstay a visa,” Sessions concluded:  “In effect, DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] has ordered ICE to largely abandon crime prevention and to wait until after a serious criminal offense has occurred, a conviction has been obtained, and a prison sentence has been served at taxpayer expense.”

Examples of the disregard for federal law included a 2011 incident in which “an ICE officer was warned that he would be brought up on disciplinary action for trying to issue a Notice to Appear to an illegal immigrant driving the vehicle of a known fugitive without a license.”

Developments  contributing to Sessions’ plea for Republicans to counter “this state of lawlessness” by “rescu[ing] the rule of law” include:

  • weakening law enforcement;
  • inflated deportation numbers;
  • the media’s propagation of the “record number of deportations” myth;
  • the USCIS’ announcement this week that “petty” criminal offenders should not be denied provisional unlawful presence waivers;
  • DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s willingness to meet with pro-amnesty groups.

David Inserra,  a research associate in homeland security at The Heritage Foundation, said the administration’s lax enforcement coupled with padded deportation numbers are wreaking havoc on the public debate over immigration. Inserra said:

Despite the rhetoric of the Obama administration, total deportation, that is removals and returns, are actually at the lowest level since 1973.”

Highlighting the “suspect” numbers used in the administration’s deportation claims, Inserra noted that “unlawful immigrants caught by the Border Patrol are increasingly being turned over to ICE for removal. . . even as removals that result from interior enforcement are dropping.”

Amid  the disagreement on the future of immigration policy, Sessions’ report offered a reminder of one of the consequences should  the nation not address these issues:

American citizens have both a legal and moral right to the protection our immigration laws afford; those rights have been systematically ignored, resulting in a massive loss of income and wages for the most vulnerable Americans.”

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.