Monday, August 29, 2011

Obama Runs End-Around on Immigration Law

By U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner

Last week, the Obama Administration surprisingly announced a new immigration policy that effectively circumvents Congress’ legislative authority in order to extend amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants. Although Congress has rejected time and again amnesty legislation, this policy will allow some illegal immigrants to stay and work in the United States by administrative fiat.

Under this new decision, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security officials will choose to allow some illegal immigrants currently involved in deportation cases to remain in the US. The administration plans to review 300,000 cases and waive the deportation of some individuals who have clean or minor criminal records beyond their illegal immigration status.

This new policy is an unacceptable abuse of presidential power, and it is an extension of this administration’s contempt for our immigration laws.

Last year, Congress rejected legislation that would have extended amnesty to certain illegal immigrants, many of whom fit the same profile of this waiver. With this announcement, President Obama clearly indicated that he is willing to ignore Congressional legislative action to achieve his own agenda.

According to ICE Director John Morton, “One of ICE's central responsibilities is to enforce the nation's civil immigration laws.” But intentionally excusing illegal immigration for some individuals does the opposite: this decision ignores our immigration laws.

Immigrants whose cases are waived could also be offered the opportunity to apply for a visa or work permit and remain working in the United States.

With 9 percent unemployment and millions still looking for work, this immigration plan seems to prioritize allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to stay and work here. This is an affront to Americans and legal immigrants who are counting on this president to focus on growing the economy and help employers create much-needed jobs.

Additionally alarming is the broad discretion given to bureaucrats when deciding which deportation cases should be waived. Based on a variety of vague factors, officials reviewing a case can decide whether to cancel the deportation proceedings.

Consider the hundreds and thousands of individuals who wait in line — often for many years — for the opportunity to immigrate to America. Now, the President has decided to move some individuals, who have already broken our immigration laws, to the front of the line.

This is unfair and unwise policy. It signals that our immigration laws are to be ignored, and we have given up attempting to enforce them. The policy undermines the rule of law, is a blatant disregard for the constitutional separation of powers, and in effect, rewards lawbreakers.

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I have worked to secure our nation’s borders and hold both this and previous administrations accountable for their actions on immigration. We are a country of immigrants, and we are a nation of laws. It is the president’s constitutional responsibility to see that his administration enforces these laws.


Nigerian fraudster allowed to stay in Britain under human rights laws

A foreign criminal who was jailed for his role in a £1 million benefits fraud has used human rights laws to avoid being deported. Philip Olawale Omotunde took part in a elaborate scam which involved claiming social security pay-outs for fictional disabled babies.

The Home Office tried to deport the Nigerian but he won the right to stay in Britain after arguing it would breach his "right to private and family life" to separate him from his six-year-old son - who was going to a school 12 miles away from where his father lived.

Extraordinarily he should not have been in the country in the first place. Omotunde came to Britain as a visitor in 1991, when he was 28, and overstayed his visa. The Home Office made a decision to deport him in 1996 but no action was taken. The last Labour government granted him indefinite leave to remain under a "regularisation scheme" in 2002.

Omotunde's case highlights the way the "family life" rules under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights are being used to overturn the government's efforts to throw foreign crooks out of the country.

Since immigration judges made their decision in May this year, he has been sent to jail again for offences relating to his failure to pay a £45,000 confiscation order for his part in the benefits fraud.

Dominic Raab, a Tory MP who is campaigning to reform Article 8, said: "The judges are using the Human Rights Act to bar deportation in a rapidly increasing number of cases where the government want to deport serious criminals, on the basis that it may disrupt their family relations. "That undermines public protection. It must be for elected and lawmakers to set policy in this area, not unaccountable judges."

The use of the act is currently under review as part of a Home Office consultation.

Omotunde, 48, was part of an organised crime gang which stole British people's names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers to commit a complex web of frauds. He had already been convicted in 2006 of working as an illegal taxi tout, and fined £100.

The fraud ring set up false addresses and bank accounts to extract hundreds of thousands of pounds per month from the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tax credits system. The ring claimed tax credits for fake disabled babies aged under one.

After his conviction the Home Office served notice on Omotunde that he was liable to be deported because his son, who was born in April 2005, was young enough to adapt to life in Nigeria. Omotunde appealed to the immigration tribunal.

His lawyers told the tribunal he was the "dominant carer" for his young son, who lived in Lewisham, south-east London - even though at the time the child was going to school 12 miles away in Fulham, on the other side of London. He claimed the child was not being looked after by its mother, who at the time was also an illegal immigrant, but by her sister and a "team" which included two "pastors".

The tribunal refused to overturn the deportation order, but five days after their decision the Home Office granted Omotunde's son British citizenship, a move which strengthened the criminal's argument that he could not be separated from his family. He brought a new appeal to senior judges - headed by Mr Justice Blake - who ruled that the son cannot now be deported and it would be unreasonable to expect him to move to Nigeria.

"In all the circumstances of the appellant's case and the best interests of his child we do not consider that the interference with the family and private life can be justified by the public interest identified in this case," said the immigration judges. "Deportation of the appellant would not be a proportionate measure and is not a fair balance between the competing interests."

He is currently serving 16 months at Verne prison on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, but when freed he will be allowed to remain in Britain indefinitely.

Omotunde and his fellow criminals made 200 false claims using 88 web-based bank accounts during a five-month period in 2004. Omotunde was one of four principal account holders, although the trial judge ruled he was not a central figure in the fraud. He was arrested in March 2007, convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to transfer criminal property at Croydon Crown Court in June 2008.

Judges said Omotunde - also known by the first name "Wale" - was "drawn into the wrongdoing to the tune of about £41,600". Five other defendants received jail terms of between four and a half years and two years, while a sixth was given a 14 month suspended sentence.

When The Sunday Telegraph contacted relatives of Omotunde about his case he telephoned from prison just over an hour later. He declined to comment on the case. It is unclear how Omotunde's relatives were able to send a message to the inmate so promptly, because mobile telephones and email are banned in jails.

The Sunday Telegraph has also discovered that Omotunde, who lives in Lewisham, south-east London, was registered as the sole director of an events planning company, Lawiomot Magnificus Ventures Ltd, in August 2010, just over two years after he was jailed. There is nothing to prevent anyone convicted of fraud setting up a company in this way.


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