GRASSLEY: I want to ask you about Mr. Rangel-Hernandez, a gang member that committed those murders I referred to. According to your April 17 response to me and Mr. Tillis, Mr. Rangel-Hernandez’ application should have gone through several layers of review, including by U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services’ background check unit.Because of his gang affiliation, the department’s headquarters should also have reviewed the case. Thus, the adjudicator would only be able to approve such an application after a sign off from Washington leadership. There was obviously a lapse, but it’s unclear who dropped the ball.First question, why was Mr. Rangel-Hernandez approved for deferred action despite his known gang ties. In other words, which office was responsible for approving the DACA applicant, and was it the adjudicator, the background check unit or USCIS headquarters?JOHNSON: The answer to the Why question is simply he should not have received DACA. I believe on balance DACA is a good program. I also believe that this case is a tragic case, and this individual should not have received DACA. I cannot state that in stronger terms. . .We’ve gone back and retrained the entire workforce that deals with these cases to make sure that they identify trouble signs, such as suspected membership in criminal gangs. . .I’m interested in deporting criminals, sir.
Johnson never did get around to specifying the office that screwed up, claiming he didn’t know the name of the unit. (Lame!) Holding people accountable is not the government style. Johnson’s using the word “sir” was the closest to an apology the committee got.Now, back to the beginning of the hearing for the first part of Chairman Grassley’s opening statement which was rather blunt:
Oversight is a critical function and a constitutional responsibility of the legislative branch. Every year, this committee tries to invite the Secretary of Homeland Security to brief us on the state of affairs of the department. It’s an opportunity to question the administration’s policies as well as an opportunity for the department to take responsibility for its actions.It’s a pleasure to have Secretary Johnson here today. This is the first opportunity for our committee to question him publicly since the President’s executive actions on immigration announced last November.Even though there is an injunction against the executive actions, we can still get a good idea of what to expect from the enjoined programs based on the way the department has implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or “DACA” program.It appears, for example, that applications for deferred action are being rubberstamped, evidenced by the fact that criminals and gang members are receiving this special benefit despite supposed policies against it.Take, for example, the case of a DACA recipient in North Carolina, Emmanuel Rangel-Hernandez, who is accused of murdering four people, including a former reality TV model.Last week, the department admitted Rangel-Hernandez had received DACA despite his gang membership, which was known to adjudicators, and despite already being in deportation proceedings.The agency response indicated a lapse in the processing of Rangel-Hernandez’s application. However it’s not yet clear who ultimately made the decision to approve the application. We need to get to the bottom of it. We know that the agency has terminated 282 DACA requests because of gang and/or criminal issues. So, this appears to be a bigger problem.This tragedy compels the question: What background checks are in place and are they adequate to ensure that benefits are not being provided to those who pose a threat to the homeland and public safety? And, does this administration truly have a zero-tolerance policy for the granting of immigration benefits to criminals and gang members, as suggested by the President?The committee will also want to hear from the Secretary about the proposed expansion of DACA and why the department provided over 100,000 DACA work authorization extensions despite assurances its lawyers gave the federal court that it would not implement any aspect of the President’s executive action until February 18, 2015.Whether discussing the 2012 DACA program or the 2014 executive actions, there remain questions about the legality of the President’s actions. There are also questions about how the department will fund the programs, and whether legal immigrants will suffer due to the prioritization for benefits of people in the country illegally.The Secretary must also answer as to why this administration is allowing people here illegally to be put on a path to citizenship, which is clearly a constitutional responsibility of Congress. This path to citizenship is afforded through the administration’s use of advance parole, which they are encouraging DACA applicants to take advantage of. This loophole will set a dangerous precedent that will allow lawbreakers to obtain the benefits of lawful permanent residence and citizenship after showing a total disregard for American law.One thing seems very clear: there is little will or desire by this administration to enforce the laws on the books and to back up agents in the field who swore to uphold the law.This administration needs to answer for the release of criminal aliens into our communities. In fiscal year 2013, the department released from detention over 36,000 convicted criminal aliens in removal proceedings or after they had been ordered removed. Then in fiscal year 2014, it released 30,558 convicted criminal aliens. They had convictions ranging from homicide to sexual assault to kidnapping to aggravated assault to drunk driving. Continue reading this article