Under President Obama’s oversight, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) is deporting less undocumented immigrants in connection with its new policy limiting enforcement resources on, ““public safety, national security and border security,” said ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzales.[i]” “ICE has been vocal about the shift in our immigration-enforcement strategy,” she said. “Our removal numbers illustrate this.” The Center for Immigration Studies published their report in October 2013, titled, “Deportation Numbers Unwrapped. Raw Statistics Reveal the Real Story of ICE Enforcement in Decline,” and as to the source of information, CIS states, “This report examines data from a collection of mostly unpublished internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE statistics, to provide an alternative evaluation of the administration’s record on immigration enforcement that is based on raw statistics rather than pre-packaged press kits.[ii]”
If ICE officials have more choices in enforcing immigration laws, who is not being deported?
Central to the disagreement among Democrats and Republican lawmakers are many of the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants who may, for all intents and purposes, live among U.S. citizens day to day without any call to consider their immigration or citizenship status. As indicated in the CIS report, a 2011 ICE memorandum directed officers, “not to arrest certain broad categories of illegal aliens, including minor criminals, long-time residents, students, parents, caregivers, and a long list of other excepted categories for whom there was otherwise no statutory basis for special treatment.” Despite a policy decreasing the number of new arrests and detentions, there are still thousands of the same people stuck in the immigration court system, waiting for asylum hearings, waiting in detention facilities, and waiting to move forward with life.
How will ICE officers determine who should be targeted for arrest and detention?
A policy directive suggesting ICE officers not arrest and detain the less threatening illegal immigrants to the U.S. does not guarantee any sense of safety for undocumented residents living in fear. Imagine you are driving around on a suspended drivers license and fear all it would take is for another driver to hit you to expose your illegal presence to a law enforcement officer. No, you probably should not drive on a suspended drivers license, but many do, and have little choice. The necessity to get yourself and family members to work or school, for instance, can create fear in undocumented immigrants who may wonder when their luck may run out and they are arrested and detained for not being present in the U.S. with a lawful immigration status.
President Obama said during his (re)election campaign(s) that he would work to provide undocumented residents with a pathway to citizenship. The decrease in the number of ICE arrests and deportations must give some people a feeling of safety. Meanwhile, critics of immigration reform must argue that an effort to reduce enforcement of out-of-date laws does not cure the underlying problem that those old laws do not reflect the spirit of the will of the people in the United States.
In the event you, a friend or family member is arrested and detained by ICE officers, you should immediately contact an attorney to learn what, if any, rights you or the detained person has, and how the detention and removal processes work and how the attorney can help.
The Law Office of KiKi M. Mosley, works to counsel and represent detained immigrants and file the proper petitions with immigration courts necessary to protect an undocumented man, woman or child. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.
[i] Bloomberg Businessweek: Deportations Drop as Obama Pushes for New Immigration Law. By Michael C. Bender, Dec. 17, 2013.
[ii] Center for Immigration Studies: Deportation Numbers Unwrapped. Raw Statistics Reveal the Real Story of ICE Enforcement in Decline. By Jessica Vaughan, Oct. 2013.