Schumer-Rubio Amnesty Would Legalize 45 Percent of ICE Criminal Caseload

By Jessica M. Vaughan on May 20, 2013

One of the most alarming effects of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty, if enacted in anything close to its current form, would be the legalization of tens of thousands of illegal aliens who have already been a public safety threat in their community. The eligibility criteria established for the amnesty and most of the new guestworker provisions excuse a wide variety of criminal behavior, including gang membership, drunk driving, vehicular manslaughter, identity theft, and immigration fraud (see this analysis). In addition, the bill offers amnesty to those who have repeatedly and flagrantly violated immigration laws.

To get a sense of how significant these provisions would be, I examined the most recent data from ICE's Secure Communities program. This program, now activated in the entire country, alerts ICE when a non-citizen with a record in DHS databases is arrested by a local or federal law enforcement agency. I found that nearly half of the criminal aliens who were removed under this program in the last six months are offenders who would qualify for legal status under the terms of the Schumer-Rubio bill. This amnesty would significantly curtail ICE's interior enforcement programs, benefiting tens of thousands of criminal aliens.

In the most recent six-month reporting period (October 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013), ICE removed 38,547 aliens who had been identified as a result of an arrest by another agency. Of these, 45 percent (17,208) were lesser offenders who would be eligible for legalization under the Schumer-Rubio amnesty. These were classified as Level 3 offenders in ICE parlance (convicted of fewer than three misdemeanors on separate occasions), fugitives, prior removals and returns, illegal border crossers, and over-stayers and visa violators.

This group would include the likes of Manuel Zaruma, a 24-year old illegal immigrant construction worker from Ecuador, who recently was convicted in Worcester County, Mass., of negligent vehicular homicide (a misdemeanor), driving unlicensed, and two more traffic infractions after a crash that killed Andrea Agosto, age 47, mother of three children. By Schumer-Rubio standards, these are minor offenses, and it would take three fatal crashes like this to disqualify Zaruma. Fortunately ICE tracked him down and jailed him pending removal once a Worcester County judge let him walk free after sentencing him to the three years of probation recommended by his taxpayer-funded defense attorney and expert witness.

Of the total, 55 percent (21,339) were convicted of a felony or at least three misdemeanors, known as Level 1 and Level 2 offenders. The majority of these offenders would still be deportable post-Schumer-Rubio, unless the Homeland Security Secretary waived their ineligibility, which is allowed under the bill. That could happen, for example, if they were admitted as refugees or asylees or if they have U.S. citizen children, or any other reason the Secretary finds compelling. Offenders convicted when they were under the age of 18 (even if convicted as an adult) would be excused, as would offenders convicted under state laws aimed at immigration crimes such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, harboring illegal aliens, or identity theft, and anyone convicted after pleading "no contest" instead of "guilty". Those who re-entered illegally after deportation would be excused, regardless of the original reason for their deportation, which was most likely criminal.

The bill also has provisions that would make it much harder for ICE to actually remove these higher level offenders. The agency would have to offer a bond hearing every 90 days, and aliens would have new tools to challenge deportation in court, including potentially a taxpayer-funded defense lawyer. And even aggravated felons would be eligible for alternatives to detention, such as home confinement and electronic bracelets. Many simply will disappear rather than be removed.

So the actual number of criminals who will be legalized is certain to be higher than just the misdemeanants, traffic offenders, and serial immigration violators.

The 15 states most affected, in terms of the number of criminal aliens who would be legalized instead of removed are, in order of magnitude: California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, New York, Washington, North Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Illinois.

Texas has by far the highest number of convicted criminals, as opposed to mere arrested immigration violators, who would be legalized instead of removed. The state with the highest percentage of its criminal aliens who would qualify for amnesty is New York.

The table below shows the number of convicted criminals (classified as Level 3 under ICE parlance) and immigration violators removed in just the most recent six-month period who would qualify for the Schumer-Rubio amnesty.

Lesser Criminal Offenders and Immigration Violator
Removals by State: October 2012 - March 2013

  Total All Removals Convicted Lesser (Level 3) Criminals Immigration Violators Total Schumer-Rubio Qualified Pct. Schumer-Rubio Qualifed
Total 38,547 10,821 6,387 17,208 45

California 10,495 2,484 2,036 4,520 43
Texas 9,165 3,130 866 3,996 44
Arizona 3,005 934 305 1,239 41
Florida 1,813 463 461 924 51
Georgia 1,274 369 238 607 48
New York 911 208 312 520 57
Washington 849 254 123 377 44
N. Carolina 848 236 159 395 47
Colorado 773 196 33 229 30
Virginia 737 173 85 258 35
Tennessee 604 238 80 318 53
S. Carolina 473 176 43 219 46
Oklahoma 421 108 43 151 36
Nevada 417 102 72 174 42
Illinois 405 111 59 170 42
Source: ICE Secure Communities Statistics