• ICE Employees Petition for Right to Enforce Immigration Laws
  • Arizona Governor Takes a Stand Against Obama Amnesty
  • California Close to Adopting Anti-Detainer Bill

ICE Employees Petition for Right to Enforce Immigration Laws

In response to the Obama Administration’s deferred action amnesty initiative that took effect last week, the National ICE Council, which represents over 7,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents nation-wide, issued a petition asking ICE Director John Morton to stop punishing ICE agents for enforcing the law. (National ICE Council Petition Page, Aug. 2012)

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1The petition, which as of today has over 53,000 signatures, denounces ICE policies that restrict ICE agents from initiating deportation proceedings for illegal aliens and instead penalize agents who attempt to enforce immigration laws. (Id.) The petition reads, “By threatening your law enforcement officers with suspension for exercising their discretion, you are sending the message that, rather than having discretion to determine who is eligible for amnesty, ICE officers are required to turn a blind eye anytime they encounter any illegal alien…”(Id.)

The most recent example of this retaliation occurred in July, when an ICE agent was reprimanded for failing to release an illegal alien with a record of ten traffic violations, including driving without a license. (FOX News, Aug. 2, 2012) According to the National ICE Council, “the agent’s supervisors overruled him and ordered him to release the illegal alien.” (National ICE Council Petition Page, Aug. 2012) The agent now faces a three-day suspension for arresting “a non-targeted alien,” and could be at risk of losing his job and his retirement.  (FOX News, Aug. 2, 2012)

The bind ICE agents find themselves in stems directly from the Obama Administration’s amnesty agenda. In 2011, ICE Director John Morton issued a series of memos (commonly referred to as the Morton Memos) directing agents to use “prosecutorial discretion” to release and otherwise ignore any illegal aliens who do not fit the Administration’s enforcement “priorities,” such as those convicted of certain violent crimes. (See FAIR Summary of the Morton Memos, Jan. 2012) The Administration’s amnesty agenda gained additional footing last week when DHS Secretary Napolitano’s June memo granting “deferred action” status to over one million illegal aliens under the age of thirty took effect. (FAIR Legislative Update, June 19, 2012; see also DHS webpage on Deferred Action, Aug. 2012)

Not only does this backdoor amnesty circumvent Congress, but it compromises public safety by making ICE agents afraid to do their jobs. A CRS report released by the House Judiciary Committee last month revealed that of the total number of illegal aliens caught and subsequently released from ICE custody, “17% of illegal and criminal immigrants, or 26,412, were rearrested on criminal charges. These 26,423 recidivists accounted for a total of 42,827 arrests and 57,763 alleged violations.”  (House Judiciary Committee Press Release, July 31, 2012; see also CRS Report, July 27, 2012)

Arizona Governor Takes a Stand Against Obama Amnesty

On the day the Obama Administration’s backdoor amnesty for illegal aliens up to the age of 30 took effect, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order prohibiting the State from granting taxpayer-funded benefits, including driver’s licenses, to illegal aliens benefitting from the initiative. (Politico, Aug. 16, 2012)

The first to protect a state from the consequences of the Administration’s backdoor amnesty, Governor Brewer’s executive order, #2012-06, does three things. First, the order asserts that the Administration’s issuance of deferred action and work authorization to illegal aliens under the initiative does not entitle them to lawful status or public benefits under Arizona law. (Id. at p. 1) Second, the order requires state agencies that issue public benefits to undergo statutory, rule-making, and policy analysis and changes to prevent the deferred action beneficiaries from obtaining public benefits and state identification. (Id.) Finally, the order requires that state agencies providing such undergo emergency rule-making to prevent the illegal alien beneficiaries from obtaining public benefits. (Id. at p. 2)

Open borders advocates were quick to criticize the Governor’s executive order. “This order conflicts with state and federal law because people who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States and under Arizona law people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification,” said Alessandra Soler, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arizona. (See ACLU Statement, Aug. 15, 2012) Regina Jeffries, Chair of the Arizona Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said Governor Brewer’s order contravenes Arizona law and that the she will likely face a lawsuit. (The Republic, Aug. 15, 2012)

However, Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Governor Brewer, told reporters that the intent of the order is to cut through some of the confusion created by the Administration’s backdoor amnesty. “As the (DHS) has said repeatedly … these individuals do not have lawful status…[yet] [t]hey are able to remain in the country and not be deported and not be prosecuted…” he said. (The Republic, Aug. 15, 2012)

According to the order, over 80,000 illegal aliens in the State of Arizona are eligible for the Administration’s amnesty initiative. Governor Brewer’s office said that thus far, they have received 2,037 comments in favor and 292 against Wednesday’s order. (Phoenix Business Journal, Aug. 19, 2012)

California Close to Adopting Anti-Detainer Bill

Last week the California State Senate amended and passed AB 1081, a bill that prohibits state and local law enforcement agents from honoring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers unless certain conditions are met. (See AB 1081 Bill History) Under federal regulation, once ICE issues a detainer for an alien in state or local custody for an independent offense, jail officials shall maintain custody for up to 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to allow ICE agents to pick up the alien. (See 8 C.F.R. 287.7(d))

As amended, the bill would add a new section to the California Government Code limiting the circumstances under which state and local officers can hold an illegal alien for ICE. The bill states that a law enforcement official has the discretion to detain an individual pursuant to an ICE detainer after the individual is eligible for release from custody so long as the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. The individual has been convicted of a serious or violent felony according to a criminal background check or documentation provided to the law enforcement official by ICE or is currently in custody for a charge of a serious or violent felony by a district attorney; AND
  2. The continued detention of the individual on the basis of the detainer would not violate any federal, state, or local law or policy. (See AB 1081 at § 2)

The amended version also strikes a previous section that would have required local governments to develop a plan to monitor and safeguard against the mistaken detention of U.S. citizens, racial profiling, and the discouragement of witnesses and victims from reporting crimes. (FAIR Legislative Update, July 16, 2012)

The Senate referred the bill to the Assembly last week where it was ordered to be read a third time. Once a third reading occurs, the Assembly can decide to vote on it at any time. (See AB 1081 Bill History) Stay tuned to FAIR for updates

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation’s immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.

FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest—more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.