Last week the Department of Homeland Security announced alleged changes to the way the controversial Secure Communities deportation program and deportation policies in general are carried out.
According to a series of June 17th memos released by John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Secure Communities, which runs the fingerprints of those arrested through immigration databases in order to find undocumented immigrants, will continue to be rolled out with the goal that all 50 states be using the program by 2013. The memo urges immigration agents to consider how long an undocumented immigrant has been in the United States, or whether the immigrant was brought here as a child and is studying in high school or college. The authorities are also instructed to give “particular care and consideration” to veterans and active duty members of the military, especially if they have been in combat, and to their close relatives. Mr. Morton also expanded the authority of federal lawyers who handle cases in immigration courts to dismiss deportation proceedings against immigrants without serious criminal records. Mr. Morton also issued new guidelines he said would ensure that illegal immigrants detained by the police who were victims of domestic violence and witnesses to crimes would not be deported.
The memos also creates an advisory commission to study how S-Comm actually is working.
This consideration is clearly a response to the pressure not only coming from advocates and activists, but from lawmakers and state governments attempting to opt-out of a program sold to them as something it was never meant to be.
Advocates, activists, and elected officials across the country rejected the memos as cosmetic and continue to demand a moratorium on the use of S-Comm as well as allowing states to opt-out of the program. While others, including immigration attorneys, praised the changes especially when it comes to prosecutorial discretion .
An example that the new directives could be nothing more than PR, one needs to look at the fact that on the same day of the announcement, President Obama extended the deployment of some 1,200 National Guard troops who are backing up immigration agents along the Southwest border.
One day after the ICE announcement, Felipe Matos, a DREAM Activist, confronted White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on the continued deportations of DREAMers. Note not just the lies regarding executive authority and meeting with DREAMers, but the missed opportunity for Pfeiffer to refer to the memos – maybe they mean little after all?
Another example of the deceptive nature of the memos/changes could be the fact that yesterday, after the release and announcement to the changes in how deportations are handled, Miguel Aparicio, 37, was deported after turning himself in at Phoenix’s ICE office downtown. He was originally arrested in 2009 for a DUI, and had fought his case since then.
As I started to write this post, I was thinking that time would tell the effectiveness and sincerity of the Department of Homeland Security and ultimately the Obama administration in terms of responding to the demands against increasing deportations. Time clearly flies and already it is showing business as usual when it comes to immigration policy.