ICE Directive Says We Shouldn’t Waste Resources Going After Soon-to-be Legal Residents
Washington, DC – A recent memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton is rooted in basic law enforcement principles, but it is already being attacked by Administration opponents as “amnesty.” The policy applies only to a defined group of people who are in deportation proceedings, but have already applied for and are about to obtain legal immigration status. It directs ICE to halt their deportation proceedings until a decision is made on the immigration application, freeing up resources to go after others who are not about to become legal, taxpaying residents. In company with the ICE leader’s commitment to focus on “the worst of the worst,” this development shows that some of the agency’s enforcement priorities are changing for the benefit of community safety, common sense, the American taxpayer, and family unity.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “This is a wise use of law enforcement resources and a welcome injection of common sense into ICE policies. Instead of clogging already burdened immigration courts with people who are about to become legal residents, it allows the government to focus on dangerous criminals and people who mean our country harm. While there are still many more changes that need to be made to immigration enforcement programs in the name of efficiency and effectiveness, this is a strong step forward.”
It’s important to understand that this memo covers only a small fraction of immigrants in the U.S. illegally — the 17,000 who are in active deportation proceedings, have also applied for immigration status through existing laws, like the family-based immigration system, and are likely to have those cases approved. It won’t give a benefit to anyone who doesn’t qualify for one already; it won’t prevent anyone whose application is denied from being deported in the future; it won’t apply to anyone who poses a threat to public safety; and it won’t end deportation proceedings for the majority of people who are in them.
Despite the common sense nature of the ICE memo, a host of Republican voices in Congress, such as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), are clearly more concerned about opposing anything the Obama Administration does than about making wise use of taxpayer resources. Despite Senator Grassley’s reputation as a budget hawk, he opposes this effort to improve government efficiency and reacted to the news by saying, “Unfortunately, it appears this is more evidence that the Obama administration would rather circumvent Congress and give a free pass to illegal immigrants who have already broken our law.”
According to Tramonte, “Americans want solutions to the broken immigration system – not ‘leaders’ whose only strategy on immigration is to block progress at every turn. Does Senator Grassley truly believe that it’s efficient or intelligent to tie up law enforcement resources going after someone who’s about to become a legal resident? This ICE memo is a step forward, in line with the wishes of the American people. The public also understands that we cannot fully fix the broken immigration system until we pass comprehensive immigration reform. Instead of calling every move by the Obama Administration ‘amnesty,’ Senator Grassley should get working on real and lasting immigration reform.”
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