A group of senators on Wednesday raised profound concerns about a 100-day deportation moratorium proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Addressing DHS’s January 20 memorandum, they said the memo represents a public safety threat and “a wholescale abandonment of law enforcement” is “particularly egregious” as it fails to exempt criminal aliens.

“With respect to the 100-day deportation moratorium, we
noted with alarm that there is no general exception to the
moratorium for criminal aliens
. Under the terms of the memorandum,
unless the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE Director determines that
the law requires a specific criminal alien be removed, most criminal
aliens with final removal orders will be untouchable as long as the deportation
moratorium is in place
,” wrote Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and 11
fellow senators.

In their letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, the Republican lawmakers underscored their fears by noting that 92 percent of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations’ (ERO) removals either had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges in Fiscal Year 2020.

The moratorium is temporarily on hold as U.S. District Court Judge Drew Tipton last week grantedrequest by officials in Texas for a temporary restraining order, which puts the dangerous policy on pause for the moment. In his ruling, Tipton determined that the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

DHS Secretary Mayorkas, who had yet to be confirmed at the
time the memo was written, surely knows there is no justification. More
importantly, he is very familiar with the real threat to the public when
criminal aliens are not expeditiously deported.

In June of 2015, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley demanded answers from officials in the Obama-Biden administration after learning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data showed that as many as 121 homicides in the U.S. “could have been avoided” between FY2010 and FY 2014 had they not released deportable criminal aliens “back into society where they could commit more crimes.

Mayorkas was ICE Deputy Director at the time.

As Tipton did in his ruling, the senators took issue with
the DHS’s claim that the allegedly temporary pause was needed “to enable
focusing the Department’s resources where they are most needed” was a
linguistic shroud over its real impact.

“Those seemingly harmless words mask what this memorandum
actually does: it turns our nation of laws into a nation of loopholes. It is an
insult to the men and women of DHS who have sworn to uphold those laws,” wrote the
lawmakers.

In addition to those raised by the senators, the DHS memo prompts
a few other questions.

How is it not a violation of his newly-taken oath for
Secretary Mayorkas to order DHS employees to knowingly ignore the law?

How can the administration claim there is no crisis at the
southern border if they are halting deportations to rush ICE agents are
desperately needed at the border?

Do DHS officials share Vice President Kamala Harris view that ICE agents are comparable to the KKK?

The DHS memo directs ICE agents to be deployed to handle
asylum processing. Given that ICE agents are not trained for this task, won’t
it consume more time and money to train them to do so?

Will the ACLU, which said using Customs and Border Protection agents to process migrants was an effort by the Trump administration to “rig” the system, similarly oppose DHS’s proposal?

Given that American lives are in the balance and the injunction could be lifted at any time, it is imperative that the Biden administration fully explain to elected officials and the public why a deportation moratorium is anything but utter lunacy.

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