For those who may not be familiar with the memorandum sent out by the Department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 17th, here are the facts.
The stated purpose of the memorandum is to provide “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to ensure that the agency's immigration enforcement resources are focused on the agency's enforcement priorities.”Within the context of this memorandum, prosecutorial discretion is defined as “the authority of an agency charged with enforcing a law to decide to what degree to enforce the law against a particular individual”.
The basic premise being presented for prosecutorial discretion is that “ICE has limited resources to remove those illegally in the United States” and that the agency must “prioritize the use of its enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets to ensure that the aliens it removes represent, as much as reasonably possible, the agency's enforcement priorities, namely the promotion of national security, border security, public safety, and the integrity of the immigration system”.
The memorandum goes on to explain what may or may not be included in the range of acceptable prosecutorial discretionary decisions and who has the authority to exercise this discretion. The memorandum then proceeds to provide a list entitled, “Factors to Consider When Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion”. The following decision-making factors are included in this list:
The agency's civil immigration enforcement priorities;
The person's length of presence in the United States, with particular consideration given to presence while in lawful status;
The circumstances of the person's arrival in the United States and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child;
The person's pursuit of education in the United States, with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the United States;
Whether the person, or the person's immediate relative, has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or National Guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat;
At this juncture, I’ll just point out that the above mentioned factors are the basis on which the DREAM Act was designed. The DREAM Act legislation proceeded through due process in Congress and was not passed into law. The claims being made by conservatives that ICE’s actions constitute an end-around of Congress are legitimate in this case. But I have to say that what is truly even more amazing is that the Department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could have chosen any combination of wording available to them, yet they deliberately chose wording that basically shoves it in the face of Congress that they are going to implement these policy guidelines, regardless of the decision made by Congress to rule against the DREAM Act.
The memorandum continues to provide discretionary standards that essentially make it legal to use relative standards as a means of either enforcing or failing to enforce the law, i.e. implementation of the rule of man over the rule of law, and then concludes with a typical CYA-type disclaimer statement.
For those of us on the conservative side of the fence, our questioning of the circumstances when it comes to the illegal immigration situation isn’t because we are inherently biased or prejudiced against immigrants of any sort…it’s a combination of factors pertaining to respect for the laws of our nation and our current economy.
The illegality and lawlessness of the circumstances is one of the factors that the majority of us as conservatives find disturbing, and the fact that our government encourages any aspect of the current or hopeful citizenry of this nation to act in a manner that is such an obvious violation of the law. It sets a terrible precedent for new citizens coming into this country from the beginning, and raises legitimate concerns as to what extent those of who are law-abiding citizens may or may not be able to trust both this element of our society that negates and violates the laws and our federal government.
In addition, it’s all well and good to say that a greater number of illegal immigrants are voluntarily pursuing application for taxpayer identification numbers (indicating that they will be paying taxes), but when the number of applicants is just 2 million out of an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants…those of us who are law-abiding, tax-paying citizens still carry the burden financially for the remainder of those 12 million human beings. In light of present unemployment figures and given how our economy is trending of late…even the most optimistic amongst us have their share of concerns about their ability to carry that burden right now.
Moving forward, there is one factor included in ICE’s discretionary list that should be drawing the attention of conservatives, but hasn’t done so as of yet. The memorandum states…
Whether the person is currently cooperating or has cooperated with federal, state or local law enforcement authorities, such as ICE, the U.S Attorneys or Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, or National Labor Relations Board, among others (emphasis mine)
The ICE is including cooperation with the Dept. of Labor and the NLRB in this list? That doesn’t bode well for what may lie ahead. On one hand, it establishes a premise that would allow the type of situation to take place where immigrants seeking citizenship in this nation would find it easier to violate immigration laws by seeking the protection of Unions. With the increase in established international labor unions, facilitating the ease in transference of citizenship could become attached to union membership. OTOH, it also establishes the premise where immigrants who do not seek protection of labor unions or who are not willing to be involved in union activity will find themselves extremely vulnerable to having this stand used against them where obtaining citizenship or being deported are concerned.
The implications of this type of subtle subterfuge are blatantly obvious, isn’t it? And it is way past time at this point for members of Congress to get the message…
Members of Congress, listen up now. It is your honor and privilege to act in a way that protects and preserves separation of powers, in order to ultimately sustain the stability of our government. If you aren’t willing to be proactive in responding to these kinds of situations in a way that displays that you do take this responsibility seriously, there’s an election coming up in November of 2012 and don’t be surprised by it if we the people decide to try to find people to take your place who will.