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Senators: ICE doing selective enforcement, not asking for more resources

A group of senators [1] recently sent a letter to Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security pointing out that her version of immigration enforcement is selective and also noting that the DHS hasn't asked for more resources to do their job.

Here's part of the letter (link):

Recently, media reports have revealed that pending removal proceedings are being dismissed in record numbers. That sharp increase in dismissals is the result of a directive from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director (John Morton) to all ICE attorneys to review pending cases and seek dismissal if the cases do not involve [serious] offenders...

Though the reports focused only on cases pending before Houston immigration judges, our understanding is that the ICE directive applies nationwide. Numerous criminal aliens are being released into society and are having proceedings terminated simply because ICE has decided that such cases do not fit within the Department’s chosen enforcement priorities...

...The ICE directive, along with other recently announced detention and removal policies, raises serious questions about your Department’s commitment to enforce the immigration laws. It appears that your Department is enforcing the law based on criteria it arbitrarily chose, with complete disregard for the enforcement laws created by Congress. The repercussions of this decision extend beyond removal proceedings, because it discourages officers from even initiating new removal proceedings if they believe the case ultimately will be dismissed based on the new directive.

Even more disturbing is the fact that your Department has chosen to dismiss cases against criminal aliens, including aliens who have committed crimes involving moral turpitude, crimes of violence, assault, theft, fraud, drug offenses, driving under the influence, and illegal entry.

To be sure, ICE has cited a lack of resources as one of the reasons for its prioritization of cases and for its selective enforcement. But to date, we have not seen any efforts by ICE, your Department, or the Administration to request an increase in ICE funding sufficient to address staffing shortages, detention capacity, and coordination of enforcement efforts nationwide to achieve a streamlined and robust immigration removal system...

They want a list of the cases that the DHS has dismissed, and they also want to know how much the DHS is going to need to do their job.

A DHS spokesman responds (link):

"The idea that DHS is engaged in 'selective enforcement' couldn't be further from the truth," [spokesman Matt Chandler] said. "In fact, this administration has fundamentally changed the way the federal government approaches immigration enforcement, doing more to keep criminal aliens who are threats to public safety - including murderers, rapists and child molesters - off our streets than ever before."

That's a good thing, but at the same time DHS is sending the message that illegal aliens are more or less home free as long as they avoid committing serious crimes.

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[1] Signers: John Cornyn, Jeff Sessions, Jon Kyl, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, and Tom Coburn

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 12:52 · Importance: 4