A project of the Center for Community Change

Who is in charge at Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

Much has been said about the lip-service that immigration reform has been given from the Obama administration and members of Congress. The continued pledges of support don’t mean anything in the face of increased deportations. The administration and the Department of Homeland Security have stated various times that deportation and enforcement practices are being aimed only at undocumented immigrants with a criminal record.

However, on March 18th:

John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, stated that his agency would be ramping up enforcement efforts against undocumented immigrants with no criminal records. Morton’s statement was in response to pressure from Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Hal Rogers, (R-KY).

Also, on March 10th, while grassroots leaders were meeting with President Obama at the White House and hearing (yet again) his pledge of support for the cause, there was a workplace raid in Annapolis, MD where Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained 29 workers.

Talk about hypocrisy.

Then, Saturday, a story dropped in the Washington Post exposing that ICE  has issued quotas as incentives to round up and deport even more undocumented immigration without criminal records.

From Immigration Impact:

The memo stated that ICE had set a quota of 400,000 deportations for the year without regard to whether those individuals were criminals or not, and laid out strategies for doing so. In other words, it’s not about keeping us safe, it’s about achieving big numbers.

So, while families continue to suffer and communities are destroyed, ICE is trying to make themselves look good with the ‘enforcement-only, deport ’em all’ crowd.

Excuse me, but where are you Mr. Obama?

Yesterday the Reform Immigration For America campaign released a statement calling for accountability.

This is directly at odds with statements from the President and Secretary Napolitano whose purported enforcement and security goals are to focus deportation efforts on dangerous or violent criminals.  To explain the contradiction, an agency spokesman indicated that Chaparro’s memo was “inconsistent” with the administration’s point of view and inconsistent with Secretary Napolitano.  Adding to the disorder, Chapparro later issued a ‘clarifying’ memo that neither rescinded nor abandoned the controversial and ‘inconsistent’ quota system he enumerated in his memo to field.

Which is it?  Is there a quota system or not? Who is actually in charge at ICE? Whose word is to be believed?

Today, grassroots groups are gathering for a press conference to call out the administration on these inconsistencies and seeming lack of leadership.

Until we have comprehensive immigration reform, ICE is going to be saddled with an enormous list of targets, and many people watching to see how they’re going to tackle it. If they want big numbers, they can achieve big numbers. But that won’t make us any safer or make the system any better. In any case the Administration and ICE have to figure out what their enforcement strategy is, articulate it clearly and consistently, and resist the urge to change it on a dime to please “enforcement-only” types who will never support comprehensive reform. (via Immigration Impact)

In short: get it together, guys. Stop playing politics with people’s lives and start working to solve problems. After all, isn’t that what you were put in office to do?

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