ICE Honcho John Morton Blasted by Critics of Secure Communities

Director, John Morton.jpeg
Critics think ICE director Morton's policy reforms are a feel-good PR stunt.

Pro-immigrant lawyers and activists are slamming the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for recently announced policy "changes" that they say will do nothing to improve the way illegal immigrants are being deported.

ICE director John Morton is saying he will give the department's lawyers more decision-making options on what immigration cases to prioritize. He claims this will make an illegal immigrant arrested as a result of a minor violation less of a concern for ICE than someone convicted of a more serious one, like a sex crime.

Morton first made this announcement Thursday in San Diego, California, at the American Immigration Lawyers Association conference, and elaborated on it Friday in a teleconference with the national press. 

During the teleconference, Morton promised that "improvements" would occur in his department to satisfy concerns raised by local governments, and "to have the most effective program we can."

But Ezequiel Hernandez, a Phoenix-based immigration lawyer who attended the conference, wasn't impressed by the director's policy changes. Hernandez complained that ICE lawyers won't actually have to follow Morton's guidelines.

"If that's all it is, it's not giving us anything," he said. 

Morton's move comes in the wake of three states opting out of a federal information-sharing program known as Secure Communities, which helps identify illegal immigrants with the assistance of local law enforcement. Massachusetts, Illinois, and New York have declared that the program has not achieved its goal of making sure serious criminals are being deported more often than non-criminals.

As a result, undocumented immigrants identified by Secure Communities are sometimes being deported because of a minor traffic violation that has landed them in ICE's custody.

"Secure Communities is not exclusively...for [convicted criminals]," Morton said during the teleconference. He contends that the program's goal is to remove serious criminals as the government lacks the resources to deport the entire undocumented population from the country.

For fiscal year 2010, ICE removed more than 150,000 convicted criminals. This is up substantially from previous years.

But the number of non-convicted numbers being removed is still much higher.

For ICE's purposes, a "convicted criminal" is someone who has been found guilty in court of serious crimes before they are in immigration proceedings. 

But at times that definition gets blurry. For instance, local law enforcement might charge an illegal immigrant with identity theft, even though that person simply made up a Social Security number to obtain employment

Chris Newman, a lawyer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, says some of Morton's "changes" are things that the director has been talking about since day one on the job.

"If anything good came out of this announcement it's that [Morton] is recognizing there are problems with [Secure Communities]," Newman observed.

As another "improvement," Morton said witnesses and victims of crime in the country illegally will no longer be placed in immigration proceedings.

But Newman pointed out that protecting witnesses and victims from immigration proceedings has been an ongoing ICE policy, so calling this a "change" is misleading.

Another of Morton's so-called changes: Margo Schlanger, an official for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Civil Rights Division, will be assigned to monitor local law enforcement agencies as they implement federal immigration programs such as Secure Communities.

Morton says Schlanger will make sure there are no violations of civil rights while local law enforcement officers engage in ICE programs. She will also provide the LEOs training materials to help avoid violations.

But since these "changes" are already ICE policy, so what is the point of Morton's announcement?

"It's a political maneuver," Newman said. "To calm the criticism of the program."

Newman contends that Obama is walking on thin ice (pun intended) when it comes to immigration, because the president has yet to deliver on his campaign promise of comprehensive immigration reform.

Instead, Obama has criminalized the undocumented community even further through existing federal immigration laws.

"The real betrayal is that [Obama] has failed to legalize undocumented immigrants," Newman stated.

If ICE is sincere about real change, Newman says, it would not allow Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be a part of Secure Communities or have a 287(g) agreement allowing some county deputies to act as ICE agents in the jails.

Arpaio has been lambasted for the way he uses federal immigration programs, and in 2009, the feds yanked his 287(g) street authority, which Arpaio was using to carry out his notorious immigration sweeps. However, ICE left the program in place in Arpaio's jails, the repository for all of the county's collars.

Ironically, as the feds are cooperating with Arpaio in the jails, Arpaio is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for possible civil rights violations. Also, Arpaio's office is the subject of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation into criminal abuse of power allegations.

So if Morton was really concerned about the rights of detainees, he'd end ICE's 287(g) agreement with Arpaio. But that would deprive ICE of a lot of warm bodies. So it's not going to happen.

Even with some states rebelling against federal immigration programs, Morton told reporters that he wants Secure Communities to be enforced nationwide by 2013.

Morton's critics say his announcement is little more than a PR stunt, a sop to the Latino community. 

They warn that if President Obama wants to earn the support of Latinos in 2012, he must deliver on the immigration-reform promises he made as a candidate in 2008, not just have underlings like Morton mouth meaningless words.

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27 comments
Icsaidme
Icsaidme

FIRE John Morton, Obummer's lap dog positioned to indirectly attack the legal citizens of America.  Director John Morton issued a memo that effectively instructs ICE Field Office Directors, Special Agents-in-Charge and all Chief Counsels NOT to deport illegal aliens. Per The Center For Individual Freedom

Gold_inline
Gold_inline

I'm all for streamlining the way to legal status.  I believe we should make it much easier for students who come here from abroad to not only finish their education, but to be apply to apply it here in the US where we need skilled and technical labor. I don't believe in streamlining the process for those who would need to survive on the government's dime.  Kind of the way I feel about people having kids, if you can afford them- have them. If you can't- don't.  We shouldn't be giving tax breaks to people who  keep spitting out kids they can't afford, and we shouldn't pay for people to live here.  They should pay for the gift of both- or at least pay their own way.

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

More good news!  It sounds like the Obama administration is finally starting to get the message:

Over 2,400 arrested in one-week immigration crackdownTue Jun 21, 2011 11:50am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 2,400 convicted foreign nationals were arrested by officials during a nationwide seven-day operation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said on Tuesday.

The "Cross Check" enforcement operation, conducted in May, detained individuals convicted for crimes such as armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, aggravated assault, theft, forgery and DUI, an ICE statement said."The results of this operation underscore ICE's ongoing focus on arresting those convicted criminal aliens who prey upon our communities, and tracking down fugitives who game our nation's immigration system," ICE Director John Morton said in the statement.Twenty-two percent of those taken into custody were immigration fugitives who had already had outstanding orders of deportation.ICE has removed a record number of criminal foreign nationals this year, according to the agency: more than 109,700 in fiscal year 2011. 

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

"'If that's all it is, it's not giving us anything,' he said."

This comment, in a nutshell, sums up the mentality of all the illegal immigrants and their advocates: it is all about what we are going to "give" them.  These people have become obsessed with handouts on every level imaginable.  Worse, it has gone from simple ingratitude to a sense that we somehow owe them something.  Give me a break.  I say "good work" to the ICE and John Morton!

Bobby
Bobby

"It's all about what we are going to give them"

Yes. That's the only message I ever hear from them, and they say it with such arrogance and entitlement it's sickening. If I had acted that way in life, it would be like my going to some potential job opening and saying, "I'm here", screw all these other people sitting and waiting for an interview."

Real Democracy Now!
Real Democracy Now!

Join the Revolution! Down with Pearce! Down with Arpaio! Down with Brewer! Stand with our brothers and sisters in Europe and the Middle East!

twitter.com/phxrevolutionfacebook.com/phxrevolution

Joel Wischkaemper
Joel Wischkaemper

Senator Pearce has been doing more for the Hispanic Peoples of Arizona than any man in this country.  He is rounding up the illegal aliens, and he is getting out of the Barrio, and when they leave, the narcotics leaves, and the crime goes way down, with murders dropping to zero in the Barrio.  Arpaio is a Mexican American, and hates dope, and he has been working hard to get this mess under control. 

Those interested, go to http://www.city-data.comGo to Arizona, and then go to Buckeye, AZ.  When you get there, scroll down until you hit the crime rate and look at that 700 number.  Those are the illegal aliens.. and that is the dope.  And that is what Pearce and Arapaio have been fighting for a very long time. 

Knowing
Knowing

The Obama administration has been trying for years to fabricate an amnesty for illegal aliens through DHS policies because they cannot get legislation passed (because US CITIZENS don't want an amnesty.  Now, even Secure Communities, which targets criminal aliens is under attack by alien advocates (because some minor criminals are being arrested), and the administration is cow-towing to the alien advocates rather than standing up and defending the program as they should.

Coz
Coz

The Feds are a joke.

magyart
magyart

I applaud the use of Secure Communities and look forward to the day all illegal residents are deported, not merely "serious crimminals". Everyone that has ignored the legal pathway to citizenship, is subject to deportation. Visit the NumbersUSA and ALIPAC websites and help fight illegal immigration. 

pguo23
pguo23

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Joel Wischkaemper
Joel Wischkaemper

Yep..  this is the left wing alright.  You can tell because they are calling people dirty names, and NOT supporting their position with anything BUT..   more dirty names.  Ain't a gonna learn anything here folks. 

Guest23
Guest23

The position of many leftists, of which I don't consider myself such, since I am a realist is hinges on the government statement is that it is impossible to deport all illegal immigrants, so the most logical choice of who to deport first is those with violent crriminal backgrounds. Why this doesn't make sense to the anti illegal i?mmigration people I can't figure out. And before you go off half cocked that I believe all illegal immigrants should be legalized that is not what I support. I do support meaningful immigration reform that takes into account realistic realities. The Dream act appeared to be a step in the right direction but if the conservatives will not even go for that any reform seems hopeless and we will be continuously stuck in a battle of rhetoric with nothing getting done... politics as usual it seems.

Bobby
Bobby

Truth be told, the U.S. the first and only nation to reach the moon over 40 years ago!!!!, could easily deport every single person that is in this nation illegally. I'm not saying it should be done, I'm saying it's so easily done if the will was there. It's all B.S. when politicians continually claim it's impossible.

Joel Wischkaemper
Joel Wischkaemper

Our country has made it a policy if you break the law, you will not take benefit from that crime.Rob a bank.. give the money to the kids, and the government returns it to.... the.. rightful.. owners. 

Someone has to a pay for the crime the parents and that child did.  The parents acted in the interests of the child, and brought them to this country.  Providing the dream act would be rewarding the children with the product of breaking our laws. 

But also.. in addition to all the other points that make the Dream Act deeply offensive to the American People, someone has to pay for that Dream Act, and those kids going to school.  Mexico?  Nope.  The Parents?  Nope.  The American Taxpayers who's laws they broke?  Yep. 

Except... NO.  No amnesty.. no dream act.  Ask the parents and Mexico to pay for it.

Detain, and deport.  NOW!

Jason
Jason

"The real betrayal is that Obama has failed to legalize undocumented immigrants."

Is that what this is about? The fact that the criminal illegals haven't gained legal status? Last time I checked, they are freakin ILLEGAL! The DREAM Act, as an individual bill, will never pass Congress. As a part of a larger comprehensive immigration overhaul, it may succeed.

The people want to be rid of the criminal illegals. Unfortunately, there is just no way to deport them all. The government could renew all their visas, but then again, that would overburden the government. Legalizing them would just reward lawbreakers. Also, legalizing them would overburden the SSA by having to give the criminal illegals Social Security numbers.

Stop whining and crying that the criminal illegals haven't gained legal status and help round them up. It's one way to help secure the border.

Bobby
Bobby

I would think that the '"Real Betrayal is rooted in, Oh, Mexico perhaps. It continues to amaze me, how the government of Mexico, is never, ever, blamed and always excused for its openly criminal treatment of IT'S CITIZENS.

Bobby
Bobby

Isn't the statement you give in quotes crazy. It's the product of a lawless and totally willfull mind.

Hacim Obmed
Hacim Obmed

Make life difficult for illegals in every way possible.Landlords should not be allowed to rent them apartments, they should be prohibited from getting a drivers license, likewise for any sort of welfare benefit, opening a bank accounts, applying for a credit card, taking out a loan, buying an airline or bus ticket, registering at a public college, getting married, buying a gun. The main thing however is to dry up their paychecks by locking up or shutting down anyone who offers them any kind of employment. One should also prosecute those who help illegals find employment (job agents) and those who transport them or help them commute to work. A combination of these easy steps will solve 99% of the problem.There is no need for mass roundups or for trials and deportations of millions of people. No one wants to fool around with that sort of nonsense. The plain fact is however, that they are here to make money. If they can't make money, then they will leave of their own accord the same way they came. Very Simple.

Former Gilbert resident.
Former Gilbert resident.

Arizona has done almost all of the steps you are saying....

And still are crying about illegals...and will continue doing so, because unless the economy crash to the point of a depression, and even after that, illegals are not going away.

Margonzalez3000
Margonzalez3000

who are they going to rent the apts and homes ,landlords is time to start going to other states that allowes you to rent to whom ever ,arizonas economy is going to be in shambles   you watch

Jason
Jason

Have you read Alabama's and Georgia's version of Arizona's SB 1070?

Alabama's bill makes life even tougher for the criminal illegals than Arizona. Georgia's bill says that employers cannot hire criminal illegals due to forced compliance with E-Verify. Any company that fails to do so cannot renew their license to operate.

Alabama wants its public schools to count its illegal immigrant children. Their bill denies criminal illegals a home. BTW, Alabama's unemployment rate is the same as Arizona's, 9.3%. When you have about 600,000 people out of work (presuming Alabama has roughly the same population as Arizona, 6.4 million), and 120,000 of those people are criminal illegals, (Arizona has somewhere around 500,000 criminal illegals), then you want to do something about it. I applaud Governor Robert Bentley for standing up to the feds and doing something to rid his state of these detrimental criminals.  

Fuck the criminal illegals. They need to take their useless brown asses back to wherever they came from. We need to make life as hard as possible on the criminal illegals. They have no right to work, let alone be, in the United States without permission. They are fucking useless to me. Round up all the criminal illegals and put their sorry useless brown asses to work securing the border. Simple as that.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Hm. But no mention of indefinite detention, one of the most outrageous atrocities in this whole mess.

If Ice orders you deported because you got caught with a joint or were underage drinking or for some other petty offense, actually being deported is a best-case scenario. If the US doesn't have a treaty with your country of origin that allows for deportation (e.g., Vietnam) then you can be detained indefinitely. As in, unto death.

So you're looking at a life sentence for being caught with a joint. Or creating a public nuisance. or any other petty beef for which they see fit to deport you. And you don't have to be undocumented to be deported. Legal Permanent Residents of this country can get the same screwing.

It's a gross violation of due process.

The only winner in this is the private prison system. 

Bobby
Bobby

I can agree with this reasoning. Sure, just because I'm against illegal immigration, bigtime doesn't mean I don't think this nation is turning into a fascist system.

Stacy
Stacy

Lets hope this is more than just smoke up our asses.. I'm so sick and tired of being used like this.  We all know that MCSO deputies violate the crap out of this, if this new policy change is ever going to work then it has to be enforced by punishing the violators such as incidents where MCSO 287G deputies break a woman's arm for refusing to sign ICE documents.

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