By Mike Lillis - 10/18/11 10:56 PM EDT
The immigration issue has been in the thorn in the side of Obama since he entered the White House nearly three years ago. On the one hand, his tough stand on deportations has threatened to alienate a key Hispanic constituency that helped him win the White House; on the other, the hike in deportations has done almost nothing to appease conservative critics, who are still hammering his administration for doing too little to enforce current laws.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, accused ICE on Tuesday of "cooking the books" by including "voluntary removals" and repeat deportations in its figures.
"The Obama administration continues to inflate its deportation numbers," Smith said Tuesday in a statement. "[I]n reality they are enacting amnesty through inaction."
In August, the Department of Homeland Security announced new deportation rules to halt the blanket deportation of every illegal immigrant in line for exile. Instead, DHS officials said they will look at each individual on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing violent offenders and other criminals, while closing the books on students and others considered non-threatening.
Gutierrez on Tuesday said he's still searching for evidence that those changes have taken hold.
"The announcement cannot be merely a pacifier for those of us crying out for justice and compassion," he said. "It must actually stop the deportation of those with deep roots in our country like long-term residents, DREAM Act students, military families, and immediate family of U.S. citizens."