ICE tells local agencies they can bypass sanctuary city policies
Thursday, June 13, 2019
The new chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that the agency plans to target more immigrant families for deportation.
ICE will step up and target thousands of families who have received final orders of deportation. The number of arrests will go up to fulfill a more aggressive approach that the White House wants, though Morgan said that ICE would act with compassion and humanity.
What triggered this approach?
The Trump administration has been vocal about lessening the number of undocumented immigrants in the country and has faced consistent oppositions and delays. The administration said that this has contributed to the record numbers of immigrants (over 100,000) from Central America crossing into the U.S. per month.
Morgan said that the smuggling guides in Central America advise immigrants to travel with a child to avoid deportation from the United States. ICE investigators are detecting a growing number of children arriving with adults who are not their biological parents.
When migrants cannot be deported right away, they are temporarily held at immigration detention centers (with a 20 day maximum for a child) and then released with a court date to appear. In the meantime, they get a chance to live and work in the United States while their claims are processed. This could be for years.
In the past, the process to track down and arrest those who have had their asylum petitions denied remained low. According to Homeland Security, 98% of undocumented immigrants from Mexico who crossed over in 2017 continue to stay here.
The plan this year is to increase arrests and deportations to deter those families. At this point, the Justice Department has fast-tracked the cases where parents failed to appear in court, obtained thousands of removal orders, and have referred the families to ICE for arrest and deportation.
The agency is also starting a pilot program to conduct DNA tests for cases where they suspect false parentage claims. They need to be careful, though, because many children often travel with their extended families to flee the dangers of their homelands.
How will this affect local law enforcement offices?
The new ICE program will allow local law enforcement officers to "disregard" sanctuary policies. These cities are so named because they limit local cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
But under the new ICE stance, local law enforcement officers can bypass sanctuary policies and make immigration arrests in jails and correctional facilities on behalf of the agency.
Pro-civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have criticized this move and point out that this may only deputize local police as ICE agents and make them instruments of the administration's anti-immigrant agenda.
It does seem that the new program targets sanctuary cities where ICE has not been successful in the past. The law in these cities prevents the police from cooperating with ICE, and now officers could disregard the will of local communities.
Florida is one of the first states looking to actively enforce this new ICE program. The Florida Legislature recently passed a preemptive sweeping bill to ban sanctuary policies. Jurisdictions that limit cooperation with ICE will be penalized. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in Florida became the first jurisdiction to participate in the program.
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