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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.
by Marcelo Rochabrun

The head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit in charge of deportations has directed his officers to take action against all undocumented immigrants they may cross paths with, regardless of criminal histories. The guidance appears to go beyond the Trump administration’s publicly stated aims, and some advocates say may explain a marked increase in immigration arrests.

In a February memo, Matthew Albence, a career official who heads the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of ICE, informed his 5,700 deportation officers that, “effective immediately, ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.”

The Trump administration, including Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, has been clear in promising to ramp up immigration enforcement, but has so far emphasized that its priority was deporting immigrants who posed a public safety threat. Indeed, Kelly, to whom Albence ultimately reports, had seemed to suggest a degree of discretion when he told the agencies under his command earlier this year that immigration officers “may” initiate enforcement actions against any undocumented person they encountered. That guidance was issued just a day before Albence sent the memo to his staff.

A spokesman with ICE said Albence’s directive did not represent a break with Kelly’s stated aims, and was consistent with current agency policies.

“The memo directly supports the directions handed down in the executive orders and mirrors the language ICE consistently uses to describe its enforcement posture,” the spokeswoman, Sarah Rodriguez, said in a statement. “As Secretary Kelly and Acting Director [of ICE] Homan have stated repeatedly, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of national security and public safety threats; however, no class or category of alien in the United States is exempt from arrest or removal.”

However, Sarah Saldaña, who retired in January as head of ICE for the Obama administration, said the wording in the memo would have real consequences for undocumented immigrants.

“When you use the word ‘will’ instead of ‘may’ you are taking it a step further,” said Saldaña. “This is an important directive and people at ERO are bound by this directive unless someone above Matt Albence comes back and says, ‘You went too far.’ I don’t think you are going to find that person in this administration.”

David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, said the fallout from the memo has been evident for months. “The memo explains what we have actually been seeing on the ground,” Bier said, asserting that immigrants without criminal backgrounds were routinely being arrested and ordered deported.

Since 2008, Congress had traditionally used its annual spending bill to instruct the secretary of homeland security to prioritize the deportation of convicted immigrants based on the severity of their crimes, but that language was left out of this year’s bill, helping to pave the way for broader enforcement.

In recent months, the number of undocumented immigrants arrested who are considered to be non-criminals has risen. (Under the law, merely being here illegally is not a crime. Rather, it’s a civil violation.) Between February and May, the Trump administration arrested, on average, 108 undocumented immigrants a day with no criminal record, an uptick of some 150 percent from the same time period a year ago.

For example, an Ecuadorean high schooler was detained by ICE agents who showed up at his home in upstate New York hours before his senior prom in June. Three restaurant workers targeted for immigration violations were arrested in May in Michigan after ICE agents ate breakfast where they worked. A Salvadoran man is facing deportation in Houston after voluntarily showing up to an ICE office for a routine check-in.

The ICE memo acknowledges that space in detention facilities limits the number of undocumented immigrants who can be detained upon apprehension. Still, it says ICE officials are mandated to begin deportation proceedings against all undocumented immigrants with whom they cross paths — even if those apprehended remain free as they face an immigration judge, a process that can take years.

Others may be swiftly deported if they are found to already have final deportation orders signed by an immigration judge. As of May 2016, there were 930,000 undocumented immigrants who had been ordered deported but remained freely in the country, according to ICE statistics.

“My concern is that what you end up doing is siphoning away resources that should go to the public safety threats,” said John Sandweg, who preceded Saldaña as acting ICE director.

Under Obama-era guidelines, undocumented immigrants with no criminal record — but perhaps with a pending deportation order — could only be arrested if an agent’s supervisor determined their deportation “would serve an important federal interest.”

Homan has appeared to acknowledge the impact of the agency’s more aggressive approach even if he did not mention Albence’s explicit direction.

“There has been a significant increase in non-criminal arrests because we weren’t allowed to arrest them in the past administration,” Homan told a House committee. “You see more of an uptick in non-criminals because we’re going from zero to 100 under a new administration.”

Both Homan and Albence are career employees who have worked for decades helping the government enforce immigration laws. Before Homan was promoted to lead ICE, he led ERO, with Albence as his assistant director.

“I expect that the agency believes that there is no one in the White House or DHS that is going to tell them ‘No. Don’t do this,'” Bier said. “And without an effective check in the administration we are going to see arrests being made without any regard to prioritization.”

Trump has yet to nominate a political director to lead ICE. In fact, all three immigration agencies under Homeland Security — ICE, Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — are currently implementing Trump’s agenda while being led by career staff.

Homan has so far served as a vocal supporter of Trump’s ramped up immigration enforcement. Last week, he even made an appearance at a White House press briefing.

“Why do you think we got 11 million to 12 million people in this country [illegally] now?” Homan asked White House reporters. “Because there has been this notion that if you get by the Border Patrol, if you get in the United States, if you have a U.S. citizen kid, then no one is looking for you. But those days are over.”

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21 Responses to ICE Officers Told To Take Action Against All Undocumented Immigrants Encountered While On Duty

  1. Why is this even an issue with liberals? Illegal means exactly that, and anyone coming into America without going through our proceedures should be deported, along with seditious liberals.

      • Of course you are right. President Obama was elected twice due to illegals voting. Hillary Clinton was elected US Senator for NYS twice due to illegals voting. Jerry Brown was elected Governor of CA due to illegals voting. I could go on and on showing the ridiculousness of your unsubstantiated commented. You are also the twit that claimed GW Bush had an average U6 unemployment rate of 5% for his 8 years in office. Your made this erroneous claim even though his lowest U6 rate was 6.8%. It’s good to see you still can write anything that is backed by real facts not Trumpian “alternative facts”.

        • How is it that you’re so sure they weren’t. Because the obstructionist/liberal media tells you so? It will be revealed that the Trumpian facts are very true indeed.

          • The question isn’t how can I be so sure they weren’t. It’s how you can make the claim “It’s the only way the democrats can be voted into office” yet offer no provable facts to back up your unfounded and ludicrous claim. Offer proof.

          • That will come out after Trump does the legwork. Right now it’s conjecture on my part. Kinda like Bill Mahrs “I don’t know it for a fact, I just know it’s true”

          • So I will assume everything that you write on this site is “conjecture” (your word) and not based on provable facts. As for Trump doing the legwork, you apparently don’t know him very well. The only legwork he does is walking to and from his golf cart! Bill Maher (not Mahr) isn’t the issue here you are the one making fabricated comments “It’s the only way the democrats can be voted into office”

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  2. Trying to remember…
    Didn’t it begin like this in Nazi Germany with the Juden?
    Look, I am not supporting being here illegally. But if there is a path to being legal take it, don’t wait.
    The problem is that many just don’t care. That getting legal papers in a foreign country to get here can be very very difficult doesn’t matter to them. I know an American citizen who went to Bolivia to visit relatives and had a heck of a time getting the exit back papers.
    Maybe I am naive, but why, when a parent is here legally, is it so hard to get the rest of the family here legally? Why is it that these people have to run the immigrant trains?
    And now, with the xenophobic crowd in control things will be much worse. Just wait until the southern business’ who use these migrant workers start raising prices or not providing enough of whatever product in the pipelines?
    And this issue IS an issue with right minded people, because it is such a balancing act. When the close minded conswervatives (yes, spelled the way I wanted it to be spelled) admit that they use these very illegals every day then we can have a reasonable discussion.

    • You seem to be saying that you oppose “southern business'” paying wages high enough to attract ordinary workers, and support them continuing to exploit vulnerable aliens. You should meet more aliens.

      • I have no clue why you would come to that conclusion. I was pointing out a fact, one that southern business’ admit doing. The real point is the 2 faced bull about illegal immigration and the use of illegal immigrants. The issue is not about paying a fair wage, it is NOT paying a fair wage, which includes various taxes and benefits. Continuing to use the illegals because they can pay them cash “under the table”.
        And there has been some backlash from people in the south about these issues.

  3. Wow: We now have an administration that actually enforces our laws! What is it that people don’t understand with illegal?

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