On January 2, 2016, the Obama Administration authorized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to raid the homes of immigrant families who had illegally entered the United States through the southern border since 2014. After only two days, 121 people were detained. Advocacy organizations and members of Congress have been lashing out at President Obama over this controversial policy. They argue that the nationwide raids are a violation of due process and are inhumane, spreading terror and anxiety among many Central American immigrant families who suffer from fear of deportation to dangerous and violent conditions in their home countries.
Posts Tagged ‘ICE’
ICE has proposed a rule that would allow F-2 dependents of foreign nationals holding F-1 status to study part-time in the United States. Currently, F-2 spouses and dependents are not granted this derivative benefit; rather, they must apply for F-1 visa status on their own, with the exception that a child may attend school through 12th grade. The proposed shift in policy reflects an attempt to attract a greater number of talented foreign nationals to study in the United States, specifically at the graduate and doctoral levels. The rule is open for public comment until January 21, 2014; submit your comments at www.regulations.gov.
In mid-July, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that she would be leaving DHS to become president of the University of California, and expected to leave her post in September. A former governor of Arizona, Napolitano is only the third person to lead DHS, a department created a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Secretary Napolitano held the job throughout President Obama’s first term.
Apparently, Napolitano’s departure will create the 15th vacancy in the department’s 45 leadership positions. This includes the directorship of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and USCIS. ICE Director John Morton recently announced that he would be leaving DHS at the end of July, and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas recently was nominated to become DHS Deputy Secretary. Other vacancies include general counsel, privacy, legislative affairs, intelligence and analysis; those top positions are currently filled with acting officials. Rand Beer, acting DHS deputy secretary, is expected to serve as Acting Secretary until Napolitano’s permanent replacement is confirmed by the full Senate.
In the summer of 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidelines on exercising prosecutorial discretion designed to focus its enforcement priorities on individuals who pose a threat to public safety, are recent border crossers, or repeatedly violate immigration laws. In a recent memo, ICE provides guidance to the field, clarifying how the existing guidelines relate to family relationships involving long-term, same-sex partners. Specifically, ICE has reminded its officers that one of the factors relevant to an assessment to decline to prosecute a case is the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships. And “family relationships,” it clarified, include two adults who are in a committed, long-term, same-sex relationship — specifically, it said, relationships in which the individuals:
• are each other’s sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely;
• are not in a marital or other domestic relationship with anyone else; and
• typically maintain a common residence and share financial obligations and assets.
While “family relationships” is only one of many factors that will be considered, this guidance is welcome news. Apparently, the guidance was prompted by a letter from 54 members of Congress requesting that DHS Secretary Napolitano issue written field guidance explicitly stating the policy that same-sex family ties are a positive factor to be considered for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton recently issued two significant memoranda on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by enforcement officials, which, if followed, will result in a more humanitarian approach to those compelling cases that deserve favorable treatment. Prosecutorial discretion is the authority that an agency has to determine whether and how to enforce the law with respect to a particular case. Like all other enforcement agencies, ICE has prosecutorial discretion. In the ICE context, prosecutorial discretion governs decision-making such as whom to arrest, detain, grant parole as well as when and against whom to initiate removal proceedings or conduct an investigation. When ICE favorably exercises prosecutorial discretion, it essentially decides not to assert the full scope of its enforcement authority in a case.
The first ICE memo provides broad instructions that establish the agency’s enforcement priorities. It also outlines who within ICE has the power to make discretionary decisions as well as what factors should guide that decision-making. The following categories were identified as ICE enforcement effort priorities: (1) noncitizens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety; (2) recent illegal entrants; and (3) noncitizens who are fugitives or who otherwise obstruct immigration controls.
The second ICE memo confirms that cases involving crime victims, witnesses, and plaintiffs require a higher level of prosecutorial discretion, and specifically states that it is generally against ICE policy to initiate removal proceedings against such individuals.
While these recent memoranda are a welcome addition to other agency pronouncements on the subject, foreign nationals and their attorneys who seek prosecutorial discretion have an important role to play in requesting a specific type of favorable action in a case, and advocating for the result.
Against this backdrop of increased immigration enforcement, the government has sought to implement more humanitarian policies in immigration detention that focus on the health and safety of detainees. Plans for these changes were announced in January by ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton, and are a response, in part, to sever criticism levied at ICE officials for secrecy and abuse. In early August, ICE introduced its Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS), which allows for the online search and location of any detainee in ICE custody. With over 350 facilities around the country holding some 30,000 people on average, security concerns, and individuals constantly being moved with little or no notice, finding the right person often has been a cumbersome, time-consuming and sometimes impossible process. Now, for the first time ever, anybody can search for and find the current location of most detainees instantly.