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Key Questions Face ICE Nominee Mark Morgan

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White House Appears to Have Outsourced ‘Advice and Consent’ from Senate to Lou Dobbs

President Trump is set to nominate Mark Morgan as head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), following Morgan’s series of pro-Trump and pro-border wall appearances on “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Nominees for critical posts used to be selected in consultation with Congress, not Lou Dobbs. They used to be selected because of their expertise, not their fealty to Trump’s border wall and his failing deterrence-only policies. It is imperative that Mark Morgan provide a detailed overview of his views, his independence and the new strategy needed so the Senate and the American people can discern whether he is going to serve the American public or just his boss.”

Here are several key questions that Mark Morgan should be prepared to answer in detail:

  • Did you support the 2018 family separation policy – officially launched one year ago? As we reach the one year anniversary of the family separation scandal that seized thousands of children from their parents without a plan or ability to reunite them, Morgan should be expected to detail his thoughts and assessment of this dark chapter of our history – one that remains unresolved.
  • Will you support family separation v2.0 – the “Sophie’s choice” scenario? Instead of simply re-instituting the family separation policy in its exact previous form, the White House is considering a slight variation on the same cruel approach – family separation v2.0 that would set up a “Sophie’s choice.” According to the New York Times, “migrant parents would be given a choice of whether to voluntarily allow their children to be separated from them, or to waive their child’s humanitarian protections so the family can be detained together, indefinitely, in jail-like conditions.” (for a fuller explanation, see this DHS Watch overview on the policies being floated and their implications). Morgan should explain in detail whether he would support such a scenario.
  • Will he make deporting ALL deportable immigrants an equal priority? Under Trump, the percentage of immigrants with serious criminal records has gone down as a percentage of overall deportations. Essentially, ICE currently detains and deports any immigrants they can get their hands on, without regard to factors like criminal records, their length of time or deep roots in the U.S., or whether they have been previously given stays or delays in deportations. For example, families who have been regularly checking in with ICE, as a requirement of remaining in the U.S., are now often put into deportation proceedings during these check-ins. The point of concentrating enforcement resources, deportation beds and court docket space to immigrants who pose a public safety threat has been completely disregarded in the Trump years. The question is whether as ICE Director, Morgan will continue this reckless practice, or will he target taxpayer resources on security and public safety priorities.
  • What is a workable strategy that responds in a balanced and effective way? Many experts believe that the current deterrence-only strategy of the Trump administration is doomed to keep failing, primarily because it doesn’t diagnose the challenge realistically. Central Americans are fleeing a burning house, and cruelty at the border is neither who we are nor is it working. We need a new strategy that deals with everything from compliance at interviews to the humanitarian crisis at the border to a regional approach to protection and resettlement to a root cause alleviation strategy in Central America. To date, all we’ve seen is Trump and White House advisor Stephen Miller hellbent on injecting more chaos and hardline policies into the mix, mostly because of Trump’s brand image ahead of a divisive 2020 re-election.

Added Sharry, “Unless Mark Morgan comes to the Senate with a clear rejection of family separation, a clear commitment to setting priorities, and a clear strategy that balances the lawful application of our asylum laws with the need to bring some orderliness to the complex challenge before us, his nomination should be rejected as more of the same failure and cruelty.”