It’s easy not to like John Morton, the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We’d like to make it easier. After raiding the home of Erika Andiola, a well-known immigrant rights activist, more than just the usual critics of the agency started seriously questioning the competency of this man and his agency. According to his own policies, this raid never should have happened. Well, it’s time to talk more about why Morton ought to lose his job. Here are the top ten reasons President Obama should fire him:
Because DREAMers are still getting detained. In June, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance fought for the release of Cipriano Toledo, an undocumented youth who was eligible for DACA that wasn’t released until activists in Florida made noise about him. ICE would have deported him on their own. So much for being protected from deportation.
Because prosecutorial discretion is a complete failure. The American Immigration Lawyers Association said plainly that “prosecutorial discretion has failed.” Also called the “Morton Memo,” John Morton failed to implement the policy that bears his name.
Because he talks directly to Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Obama felt comfortable attacking Mitt Romney for taking advice from Kris Kobach during the presidential debates, so why hasn’t he stopped his own director from taking advice from the organization Kobach works for? Morton spoke directly to FAIR about the TRUST Act in California, writing a personal letter. While Morton is in charge, ICE is listening to the same people that it would have under President Romney.
Because he empowers sheriffs like Joe Arpaio to keep abusing civil liberties. Without cooperative agreements like 287(g) and Secure Communities, racist sheriffs like Arpaio wouldn’t have nearly the power that they do to make immigrant families miserable. Arpaio might like to call himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” but it’s Morton who’s really the muscle.
Because he gets the agency sued. Late last year, the federal government was forced to settle a lawsuit after officials in New York made allegations of discrimination, lewd, sexual behavior, and an overall “frat-house” environment. Obviously, he doesn’t know how to run a decent agency.
Because his agents sue the agency. More on that point, ICE agent Chris Crane, backed by anti-immigrant organizations, sued the agency trying to get the new deferred action policy scuttled (at least on the enforcement side of DHS). Furthermore, as we noted above, he communicates with the same people backing the lawsuit.
Because detainees are going without necessary medical care, suffering, and attempting to commit suicide. Even prior to Morton taking the helm, ICE had an abysmal record of providing medical care to detainees. Morton failed to make it any better. In Broward Transitional Center, an immigration jail in Pompano Beach, Florida, we’ve found people with horrific medical complications that have only gotten worse as they’ve been left without access to medical care.
Because he kept 26 members of Congress waiting for a response. 26 members of Congress sent Morton a letter asking for a full review of all cases in Broward Transitional Center. That was in September. He still hasn’t responded. Apparently Morton has more important letters to write, like the one he wrote to FAIR.
Because he purposefully undermined the TRUST Act. Morton pressured Democratic governor Jerry Brown to veto the TRUST Act late last year. The TRUST Act would have been the beginning of a major sea-change in interior enforcement and given activists across the country an opportunity to roll back the divisive, expensive, and abusive law enforcement mandates that ICE has expanded immensely under Morton’s direction.
Because this administration needs to prove that Obama’s second term will be different from the first. Obama’s record on immigration is terrible—John Morton is responsible for making it as terrible as it is. 3 million people may be removed from the country before he leaves office, and Morton will oversee all of it.
If we want to see real change—and this administration really is committed to making our immigration laws better—he start doing that now by enforcing them differently. He can start enforcing them differently by finding a better enforcement director. It’s time to fire John Morton.