This afternoon, the House Immigration Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing on the “Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act” or the HALT Act (H.R. 2497), introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The hearing focused on the many ways in which the Obama Administration has used its “prosecutorial discretion”—the ability of the executive branch to decline to enforce immigration law against individuals on a case-by-case basis—to usurp Congress’ authority to enact immigration policy. In particular, the hearing focused on a string of policy memos issued by ICE Director, John Morton. Rather than granting relief to select aliens on a case-by-case basis, these memos set blanket policies telling ICE officers whom they should and shouldn’t enforce the law against.

In his opening statement, Rep. Lamar Smith focused on Obama’s latest abuse of prosecutorial discretion—a June 17, 2011 memo issued by Morton authorizing ICE personnel to decline to enforce immigration laws against those who meet qualifications for amnesty under the failed DREAM Act. “What had once been rumor fueled by leaked administration memos is now official Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy as of last month,” said Rep. Smith. “DHS’s plan to open the door to mass administrative amnesty is a rejection of Congress’ constitutional rights and shows utter disdain towards the wishes of the American people,” he further asserted. Despite Congress’ repeated rejection of the DREAM Act amnesty legislation over the last decade, the Obama Administration insists on granting an administrative amnesty to this subset of the illegal alien population using its prosecutorial discretion.

The HALT Act sends the needed message that not only is Congress tired of the Administration’s continued attempts to bypass its authority over immigration law, but that the American people have also grown tired of Obama’s abuse of power. If enacted, the HALT Act would prevent the Administration from further abusing its prosecutorial discretion to grant administrative amnesty to certain classes of illegal aliens by suspending its ability to:
• Grant deferred action to illegal aliens;
• Grant parole or extended voluntary departure to illegal aliens who do not meet narrowly defined criteria;
• Cancel the removal and adjust the status of illegal aliens ordered deported; and
• Grant work authorization to illegal aliens.

Stay tuned to FAIR’s Legislative Update for more on today’s hearing…