A study released early Tuesday is warning that the Obama administration's plan to spare immigrants from deportation could allow thousands of illegal residents with dangerous driving convictions to stay in the country, including many with drunk or drugged driving convictions.
The study from the Center for Immigration Studies said the administration is thought to be considering a policy change that would let immigrants stay in the country if their most serious offense is a traffic violation. But CIS said "traffic violations" cover a wide range of incidents, and drawing the line there could pose serious safety problems for Americans.
A new study says an immigration policy change being considered by President Barack Obama, shown here with first lady Michelle Obama, could let thousands of dangerous illegal immigrant drivers remain in the country. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
"An amnesty to benefit alien traffic offenders undermines the enforcement of immigration law and circumvents Congress with the sole goal of protecting illegal aliens from deportation," said Dan Cadman, a Center fellow and co-author of the report. "To suggest those convicted of traffic crimes, many of which involved fatalities, are not a threat to public safety or are not worthy of law enforcement resources is a slap in the face to family members who have lost loved ones to reckless illegal alien drivers."
For example, the study found that nearly 260,000 illegal immigrants were deported from 2004 to 2013 because of traffic violations. That means about that many would have been spared deportation over that time period under the policy change that Barack Obama may be considering.
In addition, it found that more than half of the illegal immigrants who were deported over the last ten years because of a traffic violation were convicted of drunk or drugged driving.
"More than half (57 percent) of all aliens deported from 2004-2013 whose most serious conviction was a traffic-related crime were convicted of drunk or drugged driving," it found.
In 2013 alone, 22,740 illegal immigrants were deported after drunk or drugged driving convictions, it said. The study also said other traffic-related violations dealt with carjacking, hit-and-run accidents, manslaughter and others.
Obama has said he would make a decision on ways to ease immigration rules sometime after the mid-term election, a delay that seemed to be based on Democratic fears that an announcement before the election could prompt larger GOP turnouts and put Democratic candidates at risk of losing their seats.
Read the full CIS report here: