DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has expressed support for the DREAM Act but making excuses for inaction does nothing for her credibility. When asked about the plight of undocumented students in an interview with Think Progress, Napolitano backed away from immediate solutions:
“This illustrates again, why we need immigration reform. And the DREAM Act should be part of any bill that comes out of Congress. It is heartbreaking when you have a case of a young person who has been raised in this country, wants to go to college and can’t — or commits a minor crime and must be deported. And our hands are tied, we have very little discretion in those matters. So if we want to change that, we need to have the reform. And I think the members of Congress who are working on this all agree that some form of a DREAM Act-type provision would be an important inclusion.”
With all due respect Ms. Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security has absolute discretion in immigration cases. Rather than practicing this discretion to keep DREAM Act eligible gems in our country and refrain from silent raids that still hurt our communities, the agency would rather detain, separate and deport us from our families at their discretion.
I just need to give one example of abuse of this discretion although there are many others. Since the passage of the Child Status Protection Act in 2001, USCIS has gone against the spirit of the law to separate families rather than unite them. Thousands of taxpayer dollars are wasted each year in defending the agency from lawsuits filed by legal American permanent residents to either keep their adult unmarried children in the country or bring them to the United States as per the letter of the law, which allows even aged-out adults to retain their original priority dates. Yet, with the help of the Board of Immigration Appeals, USCIS continues to rewrite the law of the land at its discretion, asking adult unmarried children to go to the back of the line and wait another 10-20 years to immigrate.
That is the ultimate abuse of power and discretion. It is something that Janet Napolitano can take action on immediately.
Video Credit: Think Progress