- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

President Obama is using his executive authority to grant backdoor amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the administration’s immigration-enforcement efforts would ignore “low-priority cases.” That means most criminal aliens can stay, and only convicted felons will get the boot.

This new case-by-case-basis interpretation of immigration laws will give illegals a work permit to stick around in the United States, taking jobs away from the 9.1 percent of Americans looking for work. Congressional Democrats, who couldn’t get their laissez-faire immigration bill passed last year, applauded the White House move.

“I am especially pleased about the impact these new policies will have on those who would benefit from the Dream Act. These young people are American in all but paperwork,” Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said in a statement, referring to an amnesty bill. “We lose a lot by sending them back to countries they do not know.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi outpandered Mr. Reid with praise of the decision to deport only known criminals “instead of children who call the United States home, and immigrants, such as veterans.” The San Francisco Democrat also came out with her “hope that today’s action by the administration will result in the suspension of immigration proceedings against gays and lesbians who have petitioned for their spouses.”

The White House spin is that it’s impossible to deport all illegals, so it will go only after those who have been convicted of a crime or happen to be a known security risk.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents now have a checklist with 19 guidelines to determine whether an illegal alien should be allowed to stay in the country. These include having lived in the country since childhood, being married to someone who is mentally ill, having a spouse who is nursing, having non-specific ties to the community and family relationships or being a high school graduate.

Basically, it’s a free pass as long as you don’t get convicted of a serious crime.

When House Republicans return next month, they need to push back against this presidential power grab. The Appropriations Committee should withhold funding from Homeland Security and Justice Department bureaucrats unless they return to enforcing existing laws through detainment and deportation.The GOP should refuse funding for agencies that give work permits to illegal aliens under Mr. Obama’s new dictate.

It’s important to return to the principles of the Secure Communities program, which helps local law enforcement keep dangerous and repeat offenders off the streets.

The president shouldn’t be allowed to loosen immigration laws in order to boost his standing among Hispanic voters for his re-election campaign. His new policies are far to the left of the American public.

Mr. Obama might as well stand at the border with a sign saying, “Come on in. Do whatever you want, just don’t get caught.”

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.