Under fire from Hispanic groups for record-high deportations, the Obama administration announced last August that it will undertake a case-by-case review of illegal immigrants who are facing ouster from the country and will allow many who don’t have criminal records the chance to stay. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that there will be an indefinite delay in many deportations and individual case reviews of the approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants who are currently facing possible expulsion.
This may be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Immigration practitioners have said they have noticed no little change in the pace of deportations since August. Moses Apsan, past president of the Federal Bar Association, has represented clients in deportation proceedings before ICE in New York and New Jersey for nearly three decades. He says he has, as yet, seen no positive effects of the new policy. “ICE and DHS” he says, “should work together on policiy announcements to avoid creating confusion among the immigrant community about the relief they may be entitled to seek”
The announcement of deferred deportation by Janet Napolitano, DHS secretary last August notwithstanding, immigrants should seek advice before plunging into the thicket of confusing policies. In the face of media criticism of the policy ICE director has said that enforcement is alive and well.
Fiction: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is aggressively dismissing cases.
FACT: Media have suggested that ICE is aggressively dismissing cases based on a directive from Director Morton. This just isn’t true. ICE enforcement is alive and well. For two years in a row, ICE has removed a record number of illegal aliens from communities across the United States. The agency focuses limited resources on three high priority areas—the identification and removal of criminals and national security threats, fugitives, and recent border entrants and others who game the system. Last year, ICE removed substantially more criminal aliens than ever before.
On Aug. 20, 2010, Director Morton issued a memorandum that allows for the dismissal of a very narrow category of cases. The memorandum applies only to individuals who are about to receive an immigration benefit—namely lawful permanent residence—from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is not backdoor amnesty. By dismissing these cases, ICE attorneys can use limited time before immigration judges to seek removal orders against aliens who are not about to receive a green card and can be removed from the country. Pursuing removal orders for aliens who are about to become lawful permanent residents doesn’t make sense in terms of time or resources.
Fiction: ICE is pro-amnesty.
FACT: ICE does not engage in “backdoor” amnesty. For two years running, ICE has removed more aliens than it did under the prior Administration. In addition, ICE has removed more criminal convicts than ever before—rendering ICE’s enforcement profoundly relevant to public safety. The agency also celebrated record-breaking enforcement against employers who violated the law. In fiscal year 2010, ICE arrested an unprecedented number of employers for illegal hiring and audited the records of more employers than ever before. ICE is committed to tough, sensible enforcement.
Fiction: ICE issues secret memos advocating administrative amnesty.
FACT: ICE is clear and upfront about its policies and procedures. ICE is not engaged in amnesty and the removal numbers speak for themselves. ICE has proceeded openly and candidly when considering policy changes. For instance, ICE posted a draft policy related to immigration detainers and solicited views from employees, Congress, law enforcement agencies and the public at large. ICE aims to be transparent in its decisions and policies and has not circulated or entertained secret memoranda about administrative amnesty. Beyond that, the agency’s record of continued and serious enforcement speaks for itsel
Fiction: ICE is anti-enforcement.
FACT: ICE is serious about tough, sensible enforcement, and the facts speak for themselves. In a world of limited resources, ICE pursues rational priorities, namely public safety, border security, national security and maintaining the integrity of our immigration system.For two years running, ICE has removed more aliens than it did under the prior Administration. Additionally, ICE removed 70 percent more convicted criminals than it did in 2008 than under the prior Administration. ICE is serious about enforcing the nation’s immigration laws. ICE officers, attorneys and personnel report to work each day to advance the agency’s enforcement mission. ICE’s success is evident when criminal aliens are identified and removed from the United States rather than being released to our communities. Undoubtedly, ICE enforces the law—day in and day out.