Senator Christopher Murphy (D. Conn.) has introduced the “Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2023” (S. 4678). The bill has not yet been, and may never be, considered by the Senate. However, an explanatory statement has turned up on the Internet. I presume that it is not some Senate Appropriations Committee staffer’s purloined draft, as it is posted on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s website.
One portion of that explanatory statement is titled “Wrongful Removals” and is remarkably wrongheaded. It states that:
The Committee recommends the creation of an Office of Removal Order Review [OROR] as an independent unit charged with the task of reviewing applications from individuals who are seeking to return to the United States after removal and/or review of their final orders of removal. The Committee is concerned that current procedures and mechanisms to allow individuals to seek lawful return to the U.S. following removal, and/or challenge their removal order, are unduly burdensome, inaccessible to most individuals without legal counsel, and granted only in rare cases. This is the case even for individuals who have a claim to lawful status and/or arguments regarding material concerns with the underlying removal order. OROR shall utilize all mechanisms provided by current law to facilitate the return of those individuals whose removal orders were contrary to law or justice, including the use of humanitarian parole, joinder in a respondent’s motion to reopen, and stipulation to relief from removal. [Emphasis added.]
Committee Democrats do not appear concerned about the 60 percent plunge in removals of criminal aliens from the interior of the U.S. from 2019 to 2021, as reported by my colleague Jessica Vaughan.
Committee Democrats do not appear concerned about the almost 600,000 alien fugitives at large in the U.S (“who ha[ve] failed to leave the [U.S.] based upon a final order of removal . . . or who has failed to report to ICE after receiving notice to do so”), or the fact that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) concludes that:
“The continued growth of the fugitive backlog is a direct result of the pressures placed on the immigration system by the crisis at the Southwest Border, as well as the fact that ICE’s Fugitive Operations resources have remained static for many years in the absence of additional appropriations. [Emphasis added.]
Committee Democrats do not appear concerned that, in 2020, half of all removal orders for non-detained aliens were issued in absentia (i.e., the alien didn’t show up).
Committee Democrats do not appear concerned that it costs American taxpayers $10,854 (in fiscal year 2016) to remove one alien (including all costs necessary to identify, apprehend, detain, process through immigration court, and remove the alien, but not the $1,749 cost to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) immigration courts, as my colleague Steven Camarota notes).
Committee Democrats do not appear concerned that DOJ’s immigration courts have a case backlog, as of the end of fiscal year 2022, of 1,789,764 cases.
Rather, Committee Democrats are concerned that it is “unduly burdensome” for aliens already removed from the U.S. to “seek lawful return following removal”, and that such authorization to return is “granted only in rare cases.” I should hope that such authorization is granted only in rare cases! It is a federal crime for an alien who has been removed to return without permission, with a penalty of up to two years imprisonment (or up to 20 years for removed aggravated felons).
Committee Democrats are also concerned that it is “unduly burdensome” for those aliens still in the U.S. who have been ordered removed to “challenge their removal order”, and that such challenges are “granted only in rare cases.” Excuse me, but aliens with final removal orders (not including those subject to expedited removal) can already file 1) a motion to reconsider, 2) a motion to reopen proceedings, 3) an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals, and 4) an appeal of the BIA’s decision with a federal appellate court.
The Senate Appropriations Committee’s “explanatory statement” has some ‘splaining to do! As do Senator Murphy and the Chairman of the Committee.