tags: Blog

Why Doesn't ICE Director Sarah Saldaña Agree with Her Bosses on Immigration?

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We know the final cost of something as consequential as deportation: Broken families. For millions of these immigrant families, there is no greater nightmare.

We also know ICE, the agency in charge of making these decisions, has a job it must do. But in making those decisions, immigrant families have implored one thing: That they judge each case on its merits.

For weeks, we’ve been trying to keep one of these families stay together. Max is a pastor, a dad of four U.S. citizens, and beloved in his Iowa community. But right now, Pastor Max is sitting in a detention facility and facing imminent deportation to Honduras.

Over 40,000 people signed a petition to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña asking her to reconsider this decision and to judge Pastor Max’s case on its merits too. But each time, Pastor Max’s family has been denied.

It’s clear not even thousands of messages in support of Pastor Max has been enough to sway Director Saldaña.

Director Saldaña testified at a Congressional hearing on immigration yesterday. Some of her testimony appeared to fly in the face of directives and values articulated by President Obama. As Elise Foley reported:

The director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that she would support a law to require local law enforcement to hold immigrants for ICE even if they oppose doing so — seemingly flying in the face of recent efforts by the Obama administration to mend relationships with frustrated localities.

That was disturbing. What else is she going to ignore or contradict? Because we’re getting the sense that actually using discretion to prevent deportations isn’t on Saldaña’s radar, despite the President’s wishes – and her own words.

It’s clear Max Villatoro, a faith leader and valued member of his community, is not a threat to the security of the United States. But it’s also clear that Director Saldaña has no interest in following the guidelines and policies outlined by her bosses Jeh Johnson and Barack Obama.

We’ve been down this path before with ICE, when the infamous 2011 Morton memo was basically ignored by the agency. This time, we’re expecting ICE to comply with the guidance of the President. Is that too much to ask of them?