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ICYMI: David Leopold: “No Secretary Kelly, The Immigration Law Does Not Deport People, You Do”

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Later this week, DHS Secretary John Kelly will again testify on Capitol Hill in support of the Trump Administration’s request for billions of dollars to deport millions of immigrants. We expect Secretary Kelly to again defend his agents’ abuses and repeat the bogus claim that his deportation force is focused on serious criminals rather than decent, hardworking immigrants.

In a new Medium piece, former AILA President and Cleveland immigration attorney David Leopold explains that, despite Sec. Kelly’s claims, he:

has the unquestionable authority to order his agents to focus on the removal of felons instead of the destruction of families. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the Secretary’s power to stop deportations based on the “equities of an individual case” taking into consideration “many factors, including whether” a person “has children born in the United States, long ties to the community, or a record of distinguished military service.”

Perhaps Secretary Kelly should read Leopold’s piece carefully before he goes to the Hill again, so that he can understand the facts and the law.

Leopold’s piece “No Secretary Kelly, The Immigration Law Does Not Deport People, You Do”  is excerpted below and available online here.

Secretary Kelly himself issued the draconian orders trashing President Obama’s immigration enforcement priorities which targeted felons and security threats over undocumented immigrants with strong ties to the U.S. Kelly all but directed ICE agents to round up any undocumented immigrant they encounter and arrest them no matter how long they’ve been here or how much value they’ve contributed to the economic and social fabric of their communities.

Kelly might as well have just written to his agents “The heck with ‘bad hombres,’ let’s go after the low hanging fruit.”

Which is exactly what they’re doing. In Ann Arbor, Michigan last month the ICE Deportation Force arrested restaurant, based solely on racial profiling. But not before the agents sat at the counter and enjoyed a hearty breakfast. The only ICE enforcement priorities on display that morning were dining, discriminating, and detaining.

Kelly and his ICE Deportation Force may take refuge behind the technicalities of an outdated immigration statute but the courts are beginning to recoil at the injustice of tearing apart families in the name of the law. Last week, in a scathing opinion, Ninth Circuit Appeals Court judge Stephen Reinhardt blasted the Trump administration for claiming it’s targeting criminals while focusing on people like Magana Ortiz, a 45 year old Hawaii businessman who’s lived in the U.S. for decades and whom the judge described as “a pillar of his community and a devoted father and husband.” “President Trump” Reinhardt wrote, “has claimed that his immigration policies would target the “bad hombres” but, the judge concluded, “even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe.”

The truth is Kelly can do more than parrot the administration’s anti-immigrant talking points while mindlessly carrying out Trump’s unconscionable assault on immigrants –undocumented and documented alike. He can choose to live up to his sworn oath to the American people to keep the nation safe by focusing on felons and security threats, not undocumented parents, grandparents, and Dreamers.

Or not.

The choice (and legacy) are his.