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Is ICE Trying to Avoid Enforcing Laws?

Anti-immigration groups are accusing Immigration and Customs Enforcement of trying to limit immigration enforcement, citing a draft policy memo ICE released this month. The memo has one major change to detention policy: it would prevent immigration officers from detaining illegal immigrants for traffic misdemeanors unless they have other immigration or criminal violations or are deemed a safety risk.

The policy seems in line with stated Department of Homeland Security policies to focus deportation efforts on dangerous illegal immigrants. But Center for Immigration Studies wrote today the policy is an attempt to give illegal immigrants a “free pass”:

According to the draft document’s cover e-mail from Ann Yom Steel, a political appointee whose mission seems to be to harass and discourage local agencies who want to help ICE and who want ICE to help them, the agency is responding to the “many concerns [of immigration law enforcement critics] related to immigration detainers, including that they could distort the state criminal process or open the window for pretextual, minor criminal charges.” In other words, ICE believes the ethnic advocacy groups who accuse local cops and sheriffs of abusing their authority by trumping up traffic charges on innocent illegal aliens in order to have them deported. Therefore, all illegal aliens who violate traffic laws will get a free pass from ICE, unless they also happen to have committed other “real” crimes.

It may have been emailed to stakeholders, but anyone can access the memo — ICE posted the draft policy on its website August 4. The draft memo is being considered as part of a broad reform of the detention system, which immigrants rights groups have criticized for its steadily growing number of detainees. Because ICE can only deport about 400,000 illegal immigrants per year, officials have chosen to prioritize enforcement of illegal immigrants considered dangerous.

“ICE has not made any decisions. We posted the drafted detainer policy to solicit views from all sides — sheriffs, community leaders and think tanks,” Richard Rocha, deputy press secretary for ICE, tells TWI. “ICE is committed to smart and effective immigration enforcement, and we want to make sure our policies match our priority, which is to target criminal aliens.”

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