Friday, December 28, 2012


by Greg Siskind
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton has issued a new guidance memo to the field directing the agency's officers only to call on local law enforcement agencies to detain individuals accused of serious offenses. According to the guidance: Consistent with ICE's civil enforcement priorities and absent extraordinary circumstances, ICE agents and officers should issue a detainer in the federal, state, local, or tribal criminal justice systems against an individual only where (1) they have reason to believe the individual is an alien subject to removal from the United States and (2) one or more of the following conditions apply:
the individual has a prior felony conviction or has been charged with a felony offense;
the individual has three or more prior misdemeanor convictions;
the individual has a prior misdemeanor conviction or has been charged with a misdemeanor offense if the misdemeanor conviction or pending charge involves violence, threats, or assault;
sexual abuse or exploitation;
driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
unlawful flight from the scene of an accident;
unlawful possession or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon;
the distribution or trafficking of a controlled substance;
or other significant threat to public safety;
the individual has been convicted of illegal entry pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1325;
the individual has illegally re-entered the country after a previous removal or return;
the individual has an outstanding order of removal;the individual has been found by an immigration officer or an immigration judge to have knowingly committed immigration fraud;
or the individual otherwise poses a significant risk to national security, border security, or public safety.
The New York Times covered the announcement in an editorial this morning and answered the question of how this differs from existing ICE policy for the last two and half years: But wait, you ask, shouldn't ICE have been doing this all along? Didn't Mr. Morton say in a memo two years ago that ICE would use its “prosecutorial discretion” to focus on the most dangerous illegal immigrants? He did. But for nearly as long as President Obama has been in office, ICE has been vastly expanding its deportation efforts, enlisting state and local agencies to expel people at a record pace of 400,000 a year — tens of thousands of them noncriminals or minor offenders. By outsourcing “discretion” to local cops through a fingerprinting program called Secure Communities, it has greatly increased the number of small fry caught in an ever-wider national dragnet.
Some cities and states have resisted cooperating with ICE detainers for the very reasons of proportionality and public safety that Mr. Morton cited on Friday. California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, told her state’s law enforcement agencies this month that ICE had no authority to force them to jail minor offenders who pose no threat.
Secure Communities and indiscriminate detainers have caused no end of frustration for many police officials, who rely on trust and cooperation in immigrant communities to do their jobs. They know that crime victims and witnesses will not cooperate if every encounter with the law carries the danger of deportation. They have shied away from a federal role that is not theirs to take.
ICE’s announcement seems to make those efforts unnecessary. It puts the Obama administration on the same page as states and cities that have tried to draw a brighter line between their jobs and the federal government’s. A stricter detainer policy is better for police and sheriffs, who can focus more on public safety. It makes people less vulnerable to pretextual arrests by cops who troll for immigrants with broken taillights. And it helps restore some sanity and proportion to an immigration system that has long been in danger of losing both.

Monday, December 10, 2012


A recent update from the Immigration Policy Center released a fact sheet about the 287(g) program, in which DHS/ICE deputizes state and local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents. These officers are not federal employees but are local law enforcement employees, but have access to federal immigration databases and may interrogate and arrest non-citizens believed to have violated immigration laws and issue detainers to keep them in custody.
Some jurisdictions were found to violate the program and they terminated the agreement, such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County in Arizona and Alamance county in North Carolina. ICE is conducting a nationwide review to determine which agreements should be renewed in 2013. It costs localities money they do not have and arrest very few real criminal. The main people arrested under the program are offenders who are not a threat to public safety or individual with no criminal record or minor traffic violations.
Most jurisdiction wither 287(g) programs have a higher rate of Latino populations and these program divest necessary police resources from dealing with serious crimes into enforcing immigration laws.
The update is available at:

Thursday, December 6, 2012


By Greg SiskindHow very 2010. Separate reports have Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chair Jon Cornyn (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) calling for passage of individual pieces of immigration reform such as STEM legislation and the GOP's DREAM-lite bill.
In the past, I advocated for this strategy arguing that the perfect was the enemy of the good and trying to pass smaller measures made more sense than going for the whole enchilada. But that was during a time when the GOP (particularly the anti-immigrant forces within the party) had a lot more power than they do today. 
The times have changed. First, we obviously know the message from the election and have a number of emboldened GOP members interested in comprehensive reform. Second, it's looking like we'll get filibuster reform next month which should make passing a Senate bill easier. Finally, there's a sense that people want to get immigration done and off the table and not drag on.

Paul Ryan Interested in Immigration Reform
This is a bit surprising given everything said during the campaign. From Politico: Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said Wednesday that Paul Ryan had reached across the aisle to work with him on immigration reform and added that the Wisconsin Republican told him, “I want to do it because it’s the right thing.” “I saw my good friend just coming off running for vice president of the United States, Congressman Ryan, we’re going to see each other next week. We’re talking. He says to me, ‘Luis, I want to do it because it’s the right thing. I don’t want to deal with it from a political point of view.’ I think that’s very, very encouraging,” Gutierrez said on MSNBC. Not to be cynical, but perhaps Ryan wants a high profile role in immigration reform because of this guy.
Lindsey Graham Suggests Full Citizenship for Legalization Beneficiaries Possible Refreshing.
From America's Voice: In an interview with CQ yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reiterated his support for comprehensive immigration reform and even “suggested that he could support citizenship…with preconditions, including an emphasis on granting citizenship first to immigrants who are currently waiting to receive it,” writes CQ reporter, John Gramlich. Said Graham, “I don’t like the European model of having millions of people in our country who can’t assimilate. It’s just not good for the culture. It’s just not good policy.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Georgia House Democrats, headed by Rep. Debbie Buckner, filed the “Citizenship Protection Act” to repeal a controversial provision of HB87 that requires U.S. citizens to repeatedly prove their citizenship to renew professional licenses, to obtain business licenses and in other dealings with state or local governments.

This is a very annoying requirement of HB87 and has caused lots of problems in delaying renewal of professional licenses by several weeks per person, the majority of whom are American citizens. A U.S. citizen should not have to prove his or her citizenship every year to keep their business or professional license. Instead, this should only be required once.

"This requirement that Americans prove their citizenship to do their jobs is contrary to the goal of getting Georgians back to work and should be immediately repealed in January", said House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. “We are pleased that Rep. Buckner is moving forward to tackle this issue. This should be a bi-partisan bill that everyone can support to support professionals and small businesses.”
For more information, visit

I hope this passes... but doubt the Republican controlled Congress in Georgia will do anything...