February 20, 2013
Fire ICE Director John Morton: Documents Reveal Deception on Immigration Policy
No chance of reform without confidence in administration
NATIONAL—After the release of documents detailing the abandonment of prosecutorial discretion, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance is calling on John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to resign.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union released emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in which national ICE officials instructed regional offices to increase the deportations of immigrants who had been arrested for traffic tickets and other low-level offenses. This directly contradicts ICE and Department of Homeland Security policy.
In public, ICE and DHS have repeatedly claimed that they are committed to discretionary policy:
- June 17, 2011: Morton outlined how ICE would carry out prosecutorial discretion and avoid deporting immigrants with little or no criminal record.
- August 18, 2011: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reiterated this policy with respect to DREAM Act-eligible youth in a letter sent to Senator Dick Durbin. She said: “The President has said on numerous occasions that it makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on low-priority cases, such as individuals like those you reference in your letter, who were brought to this country as young children and know no other home. From a law enforcement and public safety perspective, DHS enforcement resources must continue to be focused on our highest priorities.”
- October 25, 2011: Napolitano testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on prosecutorial discretion, saying: “Each of these cases costs considerable taxpayer dollars, and those involving low priority individuals divert resources away from and delay the removal of higher priority individuals. The expenditure of significant resources on cases that fall outside of DHS enforcement priorities hinders our public safety mission by consuming litigation resources and diverting resources away from higher-priority individuals.”
- February 13, 2013: Napolitano testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, once again upholding prosecutorial discretion.
The documents released by the ACLU prove renders this public record meaningless.
ICE officials in Washington approved of violations of this policy as egregious as combing through state driver’s license records for traffic offenses and establishing checkpoints for roadside apprehensions. In detention facilities such as Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, NIYA found hundreds of cases who not only met the policy definition of “low-priority,” but also suffered medical complications resultant from the refusal of ICE to halt their deportation in order for them to receive treatment.
Morton’s violations of his own policies can only amount to incompetence or malfeasance. For these reasons, we are calling on Morton to resign or be removed from office.
In order for the administration to move forward on immigration reform, we must make a clean break with the past. We have no confidence in this administration to accomplish or implement immigration reform, the DREAM Act, deferred action or any other change to immigration policy while Morton remains the head of ICE.