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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

New ICE Memo Directs Officers to Focus on Criminals

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One of the big developments being discussed at the AILA meeting here in San Diego is the release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement of a memorandum directing officials to exercise prosecutorial discretion and focus on deporting criminals rather than soldiers, veterans and their families as well as DREAM Act potential beneficiaries, those with close community ties, women that are pregnant or nursing, individuals with disabilities or health problems, and other individuals who are not in the high priority criminal alien group.

This is really very good news, but a lot will depend on how the memo is followed in the field. The New York Times' Julia Preston reports on reaction to this major new memo.

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  1. Jack's Avatar
    "Mr. Morton also issued new guidelines he said would ensure that illegal immigrants detained by the police who were victims of domestic violence and witnesses to crimes would not be deported."

    That's the favorite excuse of the anti-enforcement people to call for the complete suspension of the program. Now that this issue is addressed, they can get back on board, right? After all, they aren't categorically against immigration law and its enforcement. They just have an issue with this way it's enforced, that way it's enforced, every way it's enforced.

    Well, what a surprise...

    "This program is riddled with flaws and the announcement today acknowledges that," said Chris Newman, general counsel of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. He said the program should be suspended until the Homeland Security inspector general completes a review later this year.

    I'll make anyone a bet. Whatever the review might say, a day laborer lobbyist will still want to suspend the program later this year, later next year, later the next year...

    For him to act like his opposition is contingent upon a review is really funny.

    The memorandum lists 19 regular and 8 more "primary care" excuses not to enforce the law, e.g.:

    "ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships"

    So merely having a single relative here can be used as a justification not to enforce the law? Wow, that's a lot of people. "Ties" to the community? Wow, that's vague. Arguably, EVERY illegal alien has some tie to the community. He works there! He lives there! Without examples for some guidance, this factor is a joke and subject to abuse.

    They always have a disclaimer that nothing in the memorandum confers any right or benefit but the anti-enforcement lobby will seize upon this memo to try to make these non-rights politically such (or de facto rights) by making a big stink if anyone is deported who fits any of the discretionary (not legally required) guideline factors. Morton admitted "we are listening to the concerns raised by the [3!] governors, members of Congress and community groups." Are you also listening to governors, members of Congress and groups who want the law enforced, John? Good luck placating the anti-enforcement groups. However much you hold enforcement back, they'll always want less.

    "Mr. Morton also expanded the authority of federal lawyers who handle cases in immigration courts to dismiss deportation proceedings"

    The more people in the process have veto power over a case, the less the law will be enforced. If rank and file ICE agents can't be controlled to tow the non-enforcement line, now federal prosecutors can shut down a case even though ICE strongly wants it. This could be a big weapon for obstructionists.
  2. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Here is Jack again... he would rather deport pregnant women then criminals. What a nice and mentally healthy guy!
  3. Jim's Avatar
    We have discussed this topic before. ICE really do need to concentrate on criminals and possible terrorists first and everything else comes a distant 2nd. Glad that there is now an actual memo directing this. It's not about not enforcing but more on prioritizing and being realistic on available resources.

    People thinking that this is just another excuse then they need a reality check.

  4. Another Voice's Avatar
    The local offices may decide not follow the new memo, this is just PR for the DHS for states not to pull out of the program.
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