ICE Out of Control: Time to Rein in Rogue Agency, Pass Immigration Reform
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There’s another reference to those pesky quotas that are not supposed to exist.
The back story is this: in the bad old days of the Bush Administration, ICE went from focusing on criminals to focusing on quotas; this in turn terrorized immigrant communities, led to tens of thousands of families being separated and led to a huge surge of Latino immigrant support for Obama. Immigrants expected change, and when he was first appointed to his post, John Morton of ICE repeatedly said:
In a world of limited resources, we need to focus on the worst of the worst first.
It all sounded good, but it did not comport with the experiences on the ground. Communities saw little change. Instead, they saw an expansion of Bush-era tactics. ICE excused SWAT-team tactics targeting undocumented workers in home raids. They continued abysmal treatment of immigration detainees, and refused to be held accountable in the courts. They expanded a program that authorized local police to apprehend those in the country illegally, despite concerns raised by police associations that it destroys community trust and undermines public safety. They continued to deputize Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, despite the now-notorious Sheriff’s outrageous tactics and defiance of the law. And they transitioned from massive worksite raids, such as the one carried out by the Bush Administration in Postville, Iowa, to even larger “ paper raids” that cause enormous trauma and dislocation in immigrant communities.
Look, we’re not against enforcing immigration laws. We understand that every law enforcement agency sets priorities and ensures its agents adhere to them. But it's past due for the Obama Administration—from John Morton to Janet Napolitano to the President himself—to rein in the cowboys at ICE who put quotas and crackdowns ahead of smart enforcement and stated priorities. It’s time for ICE to focus on the worst of the worst offenders—genuine security threats, dangerous criminals, smuggling syndicates, sex traffickers, and abusive employers who violate labor, immigration, and tax laws. It makes more sense to put taxpayer dollars to use jailing and deporting bad guys instead of tearing apart the families of undocumented workers who are here to build better lives and contribute to our nation with their hard work.
Most of all, it's time to fix the broken laws that got us into this mess. Pandering to the extreme right wing with its insatiable – and unworkable –– appetite for deportation is a fool's errand. The time has come for the Obama Administration and the Congress to do what the President has repeatedly said he wants to do: work to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.