The Department of Homeland Security has a policy of allowing some illegal aliens to work in the United States, confirmed agency head Janet Napolitano, reports CNSNews.com
. “Prosecutorial discretion” gives the agency leeway, Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
“According to the information from your department, some individuals who are given relief will obtain work authorizations. So people with no right to be in the country will be allowed to work here. Is that correct?” asked Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Napolitano said a policy allowing illegals to work has been in place since 1986, but did not name the policy. CNS News points out that late President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Simpson-Mazzoli Act that year, which allowed illegal aliens who had entered the United States before Jan. 1, 1982, to request a change of work status. It is unclear whether or not Napolitano was referring to this legislation or how it would apply to current cases.
Napolitano defended current policy, saying that the administration removed a record number of illegals from the country in fiscal 2011, just shy of the maximum 400,000 individuals Congress allows the administration to deport. A cap is necessary, she explained, because it costs up to $30,000 to deport a single alien.
Grassley and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., accused the secretary of inflating deportation data.
“I’m told that [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] carried over from last year 19,000 removals and they’re counting them this year, and it’s sort of a gimmick to making the removals look higher than they are,” said Sessions.
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