When millions of Americans are desperate to find work this year its sickening to see how the Obama administration is working to keep American unemployed this holiday season. While Barack Hussein Obama is flying around the country spouting off about how his number one priority is jobs he sure is doing his best to keep Americans jobless. It seems after almost three years in office there is no one in the Obama administration who has even a small clue on how economies work. The 11-20 million illegal alien criminals are literally stealing food out of the mouths of American unemployed workers. The millions of illegal aliens are driving wages down by dilluting the job market, employers have no need to compete for workers with 11-20 million extra people to choose from. They can pay extremely low wages to illegals with the benifit of not having to pay payroll taxes why would they hire an American. In past economic downturns American could get by taking service jobs, those jobs no longer pay enough to get by. The massive numbers of job seekers is great for businesses, not so great for those trying to feed there kids. Obama runs his mouth alot about jobs but his actions are the opposite, his policies consistently are targeted at keeping people dependant on government instead of free from it.
(CNSNews.com) – Chris Crane, president of the union that represents the nation’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, has provided the House Judiciary Committee and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) with what Crane says are internal ICE emails that back up testimony he gave in July and October that ICE headquarters had verbally ordered officers in the field not to arrest illegal aliens who did not have prior criminal convictions–even if they were fugitives evading deportation orders or were individuals who had illegally re-entered the United States after being deported and were thus committing a felony.
“Increasingly, ICE headquarters leadership refuses to put directives to supervisors, agents and officers in the field regarding law enforcement operations in writing,” Crane told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration in written testimony submitted on July 26.
“Orders and directives are given orally to prevent the activities of ICE’s leadership from becoming public,” Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council 118, testified. “Agents and officers in the field are frequently under orders not to arrest persons suspected of being in the United States illegally.
“At times those no-arrest orders include ICE fugitives, who have been ordered deported by an immigration judge, as well as individuals who have reentered the U.S. following deportation which is a federal felony,” Crane testified. “Agents and officers report that they are ordered not to run criminal or immigration background checks or even speak to individuals whom they reasonably suspect are in the U.S. illegally.”
“These directives prevent officers and agents from enforcing U.S. immigration laws and prevent the apprehension of fugitives, felons and other individuals who may present a threat to public safety,” said Crane. “Situations in which officers and agents are ordered not to run criminal background checks or speak to individuals create an especially high risk to public safety as agents may unknowingly walk away from individuals who pose a public threat.”
When Crane returned to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration on Oct. 12, he repeated his testimony that ICE agents had been ordered not to arrest some illegal aliens.
“Aliens who could not be arrested included but were not limited to ICE fugitives that had been ordered deported by a federal immigration judge as well as aliens who had illegally re-entered the United States after deportation, a federal felony,” Crane told the subcommittee.
“ICE officers and agents also alleged that they were not permitted to arrest or even speak to confirmed or suspected illegal aliens encountered in the field during operations and were prohibited from running standard criminal record checks for wants and warrants,” said Crane, who also serves as an active-duty ICE officer.
Crane testified in October that House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) had allowed the union to “bring officers forward as witnesses” and “to turn over several internal ICE documents” backing up his previous testimony.
“I would like to thank Chairman Smith and his staff for working with the union regarding this matter after the July 25 hearing,” Crane testified. “Chairman Smith provided us with the opportunity to bring officers forward as witnesses. We were also able to turn over several internal ICE documents which appear to not only verify that these activities did in fact take place, but also named several senior level ICE managers allegedly involved in issuing the directives nationwide.”
Crane also provided these documents–a set of email communications–to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sessions’ staff provided CNSNews.com with copies of these emails and CNSNews.com then verified directly with Crane that the emails Sessions’ office had given CNSNews.com were the same documents Crane had provided to both Sessions and to the House Judiciary Committee. Crane confirmed that they were.
The House Judiciary Committee would not directly comment on the documents Crane had handed over. “The House Judiciary Committee will not comment on confidential documents provided to the committee for oversight purposes,” a House Judiciary staff member told CNSNews.com.
However, Judiciary Chairman Smith provided a written statement to CNSNews.com when asked to comment on the contents of the emails CNSNews.com had received from Sessions, saying they were evidence of a pattern in which the Obama administration is not enforcing the immigration law.
The emails that Crane gave to Sen. Sessions were not pristine. The names of mid-level and lower-level ICE officials have been redacted from them and some of the text has been underlined or printed in red ink. Also one email has a notation added to it to explain, among other things, that the term “Fugs” is a nickname for ICE’s fugitive operations officers.
Sen. Sessions’ office said the emails Crane gave Sen. Sessions already included these redactions and highlighting. Crane told CNSNews.com that he was in fact responsible for redacting and highlighting parts of the emails before he handed them over to Congress.
Also, the emails include a string of messages sent on May 13 in which two of the messages are marked with a time that is out of chronological sequence with others in the chain. When CNSNews.com asked Crane about the time markings on these emails, he said that that is the way they were when he received them from the ICE field officers who were his sources for the documents.
Additionally, while the names of mid- and lower-level ICE officials have been redacted from the emails, the names of two top ICE officials have not been. These are Thomas Homan and John “Kip” Crowther. Homan is ICE’s deputy executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations. Crowther is ICE’s deputy assistant director for the Fugitive Operations Division.
Despite the alterations Crane made in the emails before handing them over to Congress, Sen. Sessions’ office says it has no reason to believe they are inauthentic or fabricated.
As is, the emails appear to provide an inside glimpse of nationwide ICE operations conducted in May 2011 that were part of ICE’s “Cross Check” program, which was designed to prioritize the arrest and deportation of illegal aliens who have already been convicted of crimes—as opposed to those who are fugitives from deportation orders or are only wanted for crimes and have not yet been arrested and put on trial.
Sent back and forth between mid-level and lower-level ICE officials, they describe verbal orders that top ICE officials at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. allegedly issued to the agents in the field.
The first email was sent on May 4. (OP Crosscheck Email 1.pdf) According to an explanation of this email that Crane provided to Sen. Sessions, it is from a local ICE manager to his field officers. The subject is what Enforcement and Removal Operations Director Homan and Fugitive Operations Director Crowther told the local manager in a “teleconference” about the upcoming “Cross Check” operation.
One section of the email cites what the manager says he heard from Homan.
“Per Deputy Associate Director Homan: This is not a fugitive operation,” the local ICE manager says in the email. “This is an operation targeting criminal aliens. If the aliens you encounter are not criminal, they will not be arrested. He specifically addressed this by referencing a non-criminal fugitive. He stated point blank … ‘Am I telling you to walk away from a non-criminal fugitive or a non-criminal reinstate? YES!’” (OP Crosscheck Email 1.pdf)
A “non-criminal reinstate” refers to an alien who has been deported and has illegally reentered the country.
In the same email, the local manager explains what he says he heard on the teleconference from Crowther, the director of Fugitive Operations.
“Per DAD [deputy assistant director] Kip Crowther: He tightened it up even further …” said the manager’s email. “ONLY TARGETS WILL BE ARRESTED. There will be no collateral arrests of any kind with this op. He stated ‘I know this is a little different then your normal operating procedure, but you have you’re marching orders…’ This was contradicted by Homan later in the call….”
“He [Homan] added that no enforcement activities, including surveillance will take place in sensitive locations….,” wrote the manager.
“Per Homan: If we identify a non-targeted criminal alien, we should arrest them,” the manager’s email continued. “However, per him, we should be looking for Alien A, talking to Alien A, and arresting Alien A, not everybody in the house. If we can’t identify the target (poor picture, no picture, etc.) and we are talking to a couple of people to determine their identity, and we find a confirmed criminal alien, they should be arrested. But if you enter a residence, find Alien A and arrest them, why are you wasting your time talking to everybody else in the house?”
A second internal ICE email that Crane provided to Sen. Sessions is what Crane described to Sen. Sessions as a message from local ICE managers to their subordinate managers. This email, sent on May 9, described the reporting procedures that officers in the field were expected to follow during the upcoming Cross Check operations. The email repeats the point made in the earlier email that ICE headquarters did not want ICE officers in the field to arrest–or even interview–any illegal alien not known to have already been convicted of a crime.
“I’m sure it has already filtered down to everyone, but as of right now, they only want targets arrested unless you come across a collateral that is a confirmed convicted criminal alien,” said the email. “They went as far as to say, like [name redacted] wrote in his summation of the last conference call, that if you see your target, you should arrest your target and leave the scene w/o anyone else being interviewed. I’m not sure what else to say about that, but I will not be able to enter any information in the database if it relates to a non-convicted, non-criminal alien.” (OP Crosscheck Email 2(1).pdf)
A third set of documents that Crane provided to Sen. Sessions is a chain of emails that begins on May 10 with a manager giving directions to subordinates on how to enter arrests in a database. On May 13, however, this chain of emails turns into an exchange in which an officer asks whether “reinstatements” (deported illegal aliens who have re-entered the country) are “off limits” for arrest. When told that only reinstatements who have already been convicted of a crime can be arrested, the officer asks to be removed from the operations because he does not want people to commit felonies in his presence. (OP Crosscheck Email 3.pdf)
This email chains includes two messages that seems to be out of chronological sequence–unless, perhaps, they were sent from another time zone than the others in the chain, or if the clock was wrong in the computer from which it was sent.
“What about reinstatements? Are they off limits for this operation?” a subordinate emailed the superior at 6:53 a.m.
“Criminals only, so criminal reinstatements are OK,” the superior emailed back at 6:55 a.m. (OP Crosscheck Email 3.pdf)
“Criminal reentries only!!!” says the next email, which is marked as being sent at 5:56—seemingly 59 minutes earlier than the email that precedes it.
“That’s the great thing about reentries, they are all criminals,” says another email sent by a subordinate at 7:58 a.m.. “I will arrest any reentry I encounter based on the fact that a felony has been committed in my presence. If there is a problem with that they best sit me out of this operation.”
“I want to see the Fugs [Fugitive Operations officers] walk away from a restaurant with no-one, because there is no target working there,” a supervising officer then directed in an email marked as being sent at 7:23 — seemingly 35 minutes before the one that precedes it.
A subordinate then responded–in an email marked as being sent at 8:36 a.m.–by asking to be removed from the operation if he could not arrest a deported illegal alien who had re-entered the U.S. and was, therefore, committing a felony in his presence.
“I am serious about my email,” he said. “If that is going to be a problem then I respectively [sic] request to be removed from this operation. I will not walk away from a reentry, period! If the United States Attorney’s Office declines prosecution and management want to release that individual because it was somehow not an authorized immigration arrest, then that is on management, but I will not turn a blind eye to a felony committed before me. Please address these issues with management and let me know if I am to report for work on Sunday.” (OP Crosscheck Email 3.pdf)
The superior emailed back in a message marked as being sent at 8:43 a.m.: “I will speak to [name redacted] about this issue.”
Five weeks after this alleged internal ICE email exchange, ICE issued a press release that specifically said that “all” of the aliens arrested in the May “Cross Check” operation had prior criminal convictions. Even the fugitives who were arrested, the release said, were fugitives who had already been convicted of a criminal offense.
“In May, ICE officers from all 24 ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field offices throughout the nation located and arrested more than 2,400 aliens with prior criminal convictions in all 50 states,” said the press release. “All of the criminal aliens taken into custody had prior convictions for crimes such as armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, aggravated assault, theft, forgery and DUI. In total, 22% of the individuals ICE officers took into custody were immigration fugitives-convicted criminal aliens with outstanding orders of deportation who had failed to leave the country.”
The press release described the May “Cross Check” operation as “part of the Obama administration’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens that threaten public and national security.”
In September, ICE put out another press release about a subsequent Cross Check operation. This press release also said that “all” of those arrested in this operation were aliens with prior convictions.
“All of the 2,901 individuals taken into custody had prior criminal convictions including at least 1,282 aliens who had multiple criminal convictions,” said the Sept. 28 press release.
CNSNews.com presented the ICE press office, deputy executive associate director Homan and deputy assistant director Crowther with copies of the emails that Crane had provided to Sen. Sessions’ office.
ICE did not address their authenticity, but denied that ICE officers were told to ignore non-targeted aliens during Cross Check operations or were prohibited from interviewing and running criminal background checks on them.
“Contrary to the specific allegations that officers involved in Operation Crosscheck were instructed not to question the immigration status or criminal history of non-targets encountered throughout the course of the operation, ICE’s Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) received 1,686 calls about non-targets encountered during May 2011 Cross Check,” ICE said in a statement. “Based on those calls and subsequent record checks, ICE officers did arrest 450 non-targets who met the criteria of the operation and advanced the goal of improving public safety.”
Presumably, these 450 non-targets “met the criteria of the operation” because they had prior criminal convictions.
“Furthermore,” ICE did say in its statement, “ICE regularly conducts operations that target a variety of segments of the illegal alien population, in support of our enforcement priorities. For instance, ICE has Fugitive Operations teams that routinely conduct operations focused on immigration fugitives. Across the board, these kind of targeted operations are what helped the agency achieve record-breaking results in FY 2011 in our enforcement priority categories, which include convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, illegal re-entrants and recent border crossers.”
ICE Spokesperson Gillian Christensen reiterated that Operation Cross Check was designed to target illegal aliens who had already been convicted of crimes.
“Like any other law enforcement agency, ICE conducts targeted operations, which focus on apprehending a group of specific, predetermined targets,” Christensen told CNSNews.com. “Consequently, during operations, officers’ attention should be focused on the targeted individuals because they posed the greatest threat to public safety. During the May 2011 Operation Crosscheck, ICE arrested 2,442 convicted criminal aliens, with prior convictions for crimes such as armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, aggravated assault, theft, forgery and DUI. At the time, it was the largest and most successful operation of its kind in the agency’s history. Of the 2,442 individuals arrested, 534 were fugitives and 331 were illegal re-entrants.”
Although every single one of the aliens apprehended in the May Operation Crosscheck had a prior criminal conviction, not all of the aliens removed from the country by ICE in fiscal 2011 were aliens who had already been convicted of crimes.
“In FY 2011, the ICE removed 396,906 individuals–the largest number in the agency’s history,” Christensen told CNSNews.com. “Nearly 55 percent, or 216,698, of the people removed in FY 2011 were convicted criminal aliens–an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals from FY 2008, and the largest number of criminal aliens removed in agency history.”
That means about 45 percent of the aliens removed in fiscal 2011 were not convicted criminals.
“Overall, 90 percent of ICE’s FY 2011’s removals were in line with the agency’s stated enforcement priorities,” Christensen further told CNSNews.com.
CNSNews.com asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Nov. 2 at an event in Washington D.C.: “Internal ICE emails and a June ICE press release show that under Operation Cross Check in May officers were ordered to only arrest fugitives with prior convictions rather than all aliens with outstanding warrants. Can you comment on that?”
“I’ll get back to you on that one,” DHS Press Secretary Matt Chandler, who accompanied Napolitano, responded quickly.
“We’ll get back to you. That’s not accurate,” said Napolitano.
CNSNews.com followed up on Napolitano’s statement with Chandler. ICE Spokeswoman Christensen responded to the inquiry by reiterating verbatim her initial statement citied above, which said all aliens arrested under the May 2011 Operation Cross Check had prior criminal convictions.
On its face, that does not contradict Crane’s testimony that officers were ordered to only arrest aliens with prior criminal convictions.
In a statement responding to a CNSNews.com inquiry about the emails Crane provided to Sen. Sessions, House Judiciary Chairman Smith said: “Unfortunately, these allegations are just part of the Obama administration’s broader pattern to ignore the law until they can change it to allow millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens.
“Under this administration, worksite enforcement has dropped 70 percent, making it easier for illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S.,” said Smith. “And the Department of Homeland Security recently established a working group with the specific purpose of reviewing or revisiting orders of removal for illegal immigrants. This could open the door to allow millions of illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S.”
ICE, Smith said, “has the responsibility to enforce all immigration laws.”
“Allegations made that ICE officials have directed agents and officers in the field not to arrest illegal immigrants undermine the agency’s credibility and mission,” Smith said.
“Twenty-three million Americans who are unemployed or can’t find full-time work wonder why this administration continues to put illegal immigrants first,” said Smith. “Citizens and legal immigrants should not be forced to compete with illegal workers for jobs. The Obama administration should put the interests of American workers ahead of illegal immigrants.”
This story should be no big shocker that ICE is unleashing criminals instead of deporting them. They fact that one single criminal is ever released from Local, State or Federal prison who isn’t checked for citizenship is a crime. The release of these Illegal Alien convicts to prey on American citizens is just another symptom of a completely broken system. Of course being its a responsibility of the Federal government its no surprise its a disaster. I’ve said this over and over but Illegal Aliens kill more Americans every year then Al Qaeda HAS IN OVER A DECADE that is an undeniable fact. What is it going to take before the feds act on this, how many Americans have to be raped, murdered and robbed. The violence in Mexico is already spilling into America and AMERICAN citizens are dying. You can add to that Americans killed daily by unlicensed drunken drivers whom often already have records. you then add to that thousands of Americans left severely injured. These criminals after release are free to run wild on the public, local law enforcement has no way of tracking the nameless villians. Its often the case where law enforcement has no clue who these criminals are. They often use aliases that U.S. law enforcement has no way of confirming and due to limited budgets they are just cycled thru the system. If these criminals where deported how many lives would be saved every year, or property not stolen. The growing problem of identity theft is often linked to illegal Alien Criminals. The cost of all this carnage is laid at the feet of every American taxpayer, I guess we can look at this as just another tax. I think we should call it the “Federal Incompetence Tax”
ICE Allowed the Release of 890 Imprisoned Deportable Aliens, Convicted of Serious Crimes, Into U.S. in FY 2009Wednesday, 2011
By Edwin Mora
These illegal immigrants, deported to Mexico on Wednesday, July 28, 2010, are shown near the Nogales Port of Entry in Sonora, Mexico. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
(CNSNews.com) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) failed to identify more than 800 criminal alien convicts eligible for deportation before they were released from U.S. prisons, including “many” of “the most egregious criminal aliens, who pose a significant pubic safety risk,” according to a report by the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
According to the report, released on Feb. 4, ICE’s Criminal Alien Program, or CAP, “is responsible for identifying criminal aliens incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons and jails who are eligible for removal from the United States.”
In fiscal year 2009, CAP failed to identify 890 criminal aliens eligible for removal from the United States, according to the report. These criminals had been incarcerated in facilities in Texas and California and were released back into U.S. society.
A criminal alien eligible for removal is a person who is in the United States illegally and is subsequently convicted of a crime or was a legal permanent residents convicted of a removable offense, such as murder and other felonies.
Once an alien is identified as removable, ICE issues a “detainer” for that individual, which notifies correctional facilities of “ICE’s intent to take custody of an individual in that facility for the purpose of instituting removal proceedings.”
According to the Immigration Policy Center, “If ICE does not take custody within 48 hours, the detainer automatically lapses, and the state/local law enforcement agency is required to release the individual.”
ICE’s Criminal Alien Program is available at all state and federal prisons, in addition to more than 300 local jails throughout the country. ICE requested nearly $200 million for CAP in FY 2010, approximately $50 million more than it was allotted four years earlier.
The Inspector General (IG) report focused on cases involving alien inmates held in federal custody throughout the United States and in state custody in California, Texas, and New York. Those states hold about 64 percent of the foreign-borne U.S. inmate population.
“ICE, through CAP, was successful in identifying 99% of the criminal aliens eligible for removal from the United States in federal custody during FY 2009,” the report stated. “However, identification rates in two of the four states reviewed were not as high. ICE agents did not identify approximately 4% of criminal aliens eligible for removal in California and 2% in Texas.”
The audit later added that the Texas and California FY 2009 rates of non-identified criminal aliens translate to “890 (262 federal and 628 state) out of a total population of 49,033.”
“Many of the 890 criminals are believed to have been Level 1 recidivist criminals,” the report added. “Level 1 are the most egregious criminal aliens, who pose a significant pubic safety risk.”
Level 1 offenses, according to the report, include homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, threats, extortion, sex offenses, cruelty toward family, resisting an officer, illegal weapon possession, hit and run, and drug offenses accompanied by sentences of more than a year.
The audit blamed the “non-identification” of the 890 aliens specifically on ICE agent “staffing challenges,” such as vacancies and “increasing workload levels” created by other criminal alien identification programs.
According to the report, ICE may have missed vetting some incarcerated criminal aliens eligible for removal because agents are not required to record aliens’ immigration status.
ICE agents “do not always record and retain critical information and documentation used to determine the status of foreign-born inmates incarcerated in federal and state prisons,” the report stated. “This is because ICE procedures do not require agents to record and retain such information.”
“As a result, ICE is unable to provide assurance that its [Criminal Alien Program] agents are screening all potentially removable foreign-born inmates incarcerated in federal and state correctional facilities,” the report continued.
According to the IG report, the screening under the criminal alien removal program refers to “electronic records check and interview that [ICE] agents may conduct to determine if a foreign-born inmate is removable.”
“Rosters of either self-proclaimed foreign-born inmates or all inmates incarcerated” at the state level are sometimes discarded, according to the audit, because ICE agents are not required to keep copies of those documents.
“Without these rosters, ICE cannot verify the number, type, and location of foreign-born inmates identified at federal and state facilities,” the IG report stated.
According to the job description for ICE agents working under the Criminal Alien Program, those agents “are expected to devote 75 percent of their time to detention, deportation, transportation, and escorting, leaving little time for screening and identification duties,” according to the report.
ICE concurred with the IG report recommendations of conducting 100 percent screenings of all criminal aliens and enforcing the retention of all screenings and identifications of foreign-born inmates.
“ICE estimates that 300,000 to 450,000 criminal aliens who are eligible for removal are detained each year at federal, state, and local correctional facilities,” the IG report stated.
Another errand boy of the Obama administration is once again playing politics with the nations security. DHS assistant Sec John Morton is using budget excuses to stop deportation of people who criminally violate our borders. There excuse is there focusing on terrorist. Illegal aliens from Mexico murder more Americans every year then Al-Qaeda did on 911. This Obama boot licker is just doing the dirty work of his boss Barack Hussein Obama. This Morton guy is the same jerk off who has already threatened not to accept illegal criminals from AZ. The Obama administration is continuing the practice of ignoring congress and the public sentiment and carrying out there socialist policies thru administrative actions. For the Obama administration to use budgetary excuses is laughable. They seem to find ways to piss away billions on vacations and paybacks to Union supporters but suddenly they cannot fund our nations security. The worst part is the lamestream media will never call them on this hypocrisy.
Lack of resources curtails ICE’s tracking of illegals
By Jerry Seper
New guidance telling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to focus on apprehending terrorists and criminals has many of ICE’s rank-and-file agents wondering who, then, is responsible for tracking down and detaining the millions of other illegal border-crossers and fugitive aliens now in the country.
The new guidelines are outlined in a June 29 memo from Assistant DHS Secretary John Morton, who heads the agency, to all ICE employees regarding the apprehension, detention and removal of illegal immigrants, noting that the agency “only has resources to remove approximately 400,000 aliens per year, less than 4 percent of the estimated illegal-alien population in the United States.”
Morton said ICE needed to focus wisely on the limited resources Congress had provided the agency and would “prioritize the apprehension and removal of aliens who only pose a threat to national security and/or public safety, such as criminals and terrorists. With this prioritization, we will ensure that our work has the greatest possible impact and most effectively advances our mission,” Morton said, adding that the new guidelines were necessary “in light of the large number of administrative violations the agency is charged with addressing and the limited enforcement resources the agency has available.”
Under the directive, ICE officials are authorized under a three-level priority system to use enforcement personnel, detention space and removal resources if they are assured that any deportations that do occur “promote ICE’s highest enforcement priorities; namely, national security, public safety and border security.”
Listed as the agency’s top priority, according to the memo, are illegal immigrants who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety; those convicted of violent crimes, both felons and repeat offenders; those older than 16 who participated in organized criminal gangs; and those with outstanding criminal warrants.
Described in the memo as lesser priorities are foreign nationals caught crossing the border illegally or using phony immigration documents to gain entry, and those identified as fugitives after failing to show up for immigration or deportation hearings.
The agency’s fiscal 2010 budget for detention and removal operations is $2.55 billion.
More than a dozen veteran ICE agents told The Washington Times in the past week that the carefully worded memo had field agents wondering whether they would be detaining illegal border-crossers in the future and whether those apprehended by other law enforcement agencies would be turned over to ICE for eventual deportation.
One high-ranking ICE official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the memo publicly, said agents at a major field office who inquired were told, “Arresting and deporting aliens was administrative work, and that as ICE criminal investigators, they were not going to do administrative duties.”
According to the official, the agents were told that ICE criminal investigators would be involved only in high-profile drug and terrorism cases that involved the seizure of assets, and no longer would process illegal immigrants otherwise detained.
A March memo to field agents from Richard S. Curry, acting special agent in charge of the Las Vegas ICE field office, seems to corroborate the official’s account. It said, “We are criminal investigators and responsible for conducting complex, ICE-led criminal investigations that result in criminal arrests, indictments, convictions; as well as the seizure and subsequent forfeiture of assets. Mid-year reviews are just around the corner and attached are the enforcement statistics by agents from Oct. 1, 2009, through March 3, 2010,” the memo said. “While statistics alone are not the sole means utilized during year evaluations, they are an integral part of the process.”
Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and a member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees who has steadfastly supported efforts at increasing the funding and manpower for enhanced security efforts at the nation’s borders, said the Morton memo sends an “unfortunate message” to would-be illegal border-crossers. “The message to those not yet in the United States is that they will get a free pass once they gain entry,” he said. But Poe, a former state judge and prosecutor, said ICE’s failure to detain and deport the vast number of illegal immigrants apprehended in this country has been a long-time problem, notwithstanding the Morton memo. He said the agency historically has refused to pick up illegal immigrants detained by local, state and other federal agencies. “It’s the government’s responsibility to find the resources to allow ICE to get the job done,” Poe said. “Border security is a bipartisan issue, something that needs to be done and done properly. We need to find the resources to remove these people from the country. Congress can and should do it.”
Lawmakers in a number of states – including Arizona – have sought to make illegal immigrants subject to arrest under state and local criminal-trespassing laws since ICE does not generally respond to pick up them up unless they are suspected to have committed a crime. This, they said, has led to overcrowding at a number of jail facilities and costs that have been prohibitive for many local and state agencies.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the new ICE guidelines demonstrated that despite promises from the Obama administration, it is “simply not serious about enforcing all of our immigration laws. The reason the Obama administration doesn’t have the resources is because they don’t want them,” he said. “The Obama administration did not request a single new detention bed in their most recent budget request. So the limits on detention capacity that they now claim hold them back from further enforcement are of their own making,” he said. “What’s more, ICE is running under its average daily detention capacity – the Obama administration is not even using all the resources it has.”
Smith said overall deportations are down and catch-and-release policies are back as illegal immigrants – even those with so-called minor criminal records such as drunken driving – are still being released into communities across the U.S.
“As we’ve seen too many times, these policies can have tragic consequences. And, illegal immigrants are still free on the streets to take jobs that should go to citizens and legal immigrants,” he said. “It is commendable that ICE is focused on criminal aliens. But at the same time, the Obama administration is giving a free pass to any illegal immigrant who they decide is not dangerous enough.”
The drunken-driving comment was in reference to a Virginia man suspected in a crash that killed a Catholic nun in Prince William County. The driver, Carlos Montano, has been identified as an illegal immigrant and repeat offender who was awaiting deportation and whom federal immigration authorities had released pending further proceedings. Montano, charged with involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving, had been arrested two other times on drunken-driving charges. On at least one of those occasions, county police reported him to federal authorities. The crash killed Sister Denise Mosier, 66, and injured two other nuns.
Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, said over the weekend that, in the wake of the crash, ICE officials will henceforth identify whether any person arrested in Prince William County is an illegal immigrant with a prior record. He also said the agency will provide more space in Virginia to detain illegal immigrants scheduled for deportation. “It won’t solve the problem, but it will help alleviate the problem,” said a statement by Stewart, who has criticized the federal government’s handling of the Montano case and has called for an Arizona-like immigration law in Virginia.
Montano would not have qualified for continued detention after his latest arrest under the new policy guidelines.
The Morton memo also said that while detention resources should be used to support “enforcement priorities,” that absent “extraordinary circumstances” ICE agents should not spend resources apprehending, detaining or removing illegal immigrants with serious physical or mental illnesses; those who are disabled, elderly, pregnant or nursing; those who are primary caretakers of children or infirm persons; or those whose detention is “otherwise not in the public interest.”
ICE detained more than 300,000 aliens last year and is engaged in what the agency has described as a “broad detention-reform effort.” That effort includes the creation of a civil detention system that reduces transfers, maximizes access to counsel, visitation and recreation, improves conditions of confinement, and ensures quality medical, mental and dental health care.
Recognizing that the “purpose of immigration detention is not punitive and the importance of providing our detainees with quality care,” ICE has said it has taken “concrete steps to improve the immigration-detention system and is engaged in a serious and sustained effort that will result in additional reforms and actions in the near future.”
“Finite resources require ICE to prioritize our enforcement efforts to best protect the security of our communities and the integrity of the immigration system,” ICE said in a statement.
In January, ICE reduced the number of its detention facilities from 341 to 270 and ended outside contracts at 10 other sites.
In March, Morton told the Senate Appropriations Committee that he intended to “change the jail-oriented approach of our current detention system, and I am in the process of redesigning the system so it meets our needs as an agency that detains people for civil, not penal, purposes.”