It's been nearly six months since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton issued a memo to his subordinates, which we'll translate from bureaucrat-speak for you: Look, we got scarce resources, so don't head out into the field looking to pop every Tomas, Diego and Enrique you find without papers. And when you come across 'em, think about a coupla things. 1) Have they been here forever, or did their folks drag them across the border as kids? 2) Are they going to college or the military, makin' good and whatnot? And 3) Most importantly, is this guy before you lacking the qualities of an asshole? More specifically, does he pose no threat to society at large, and does he have a clean record?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, he probably isn't worth your time.
In October, the White House issued the same message. It's nothing particularly new. As early as 2010, ICE honchos have been urging their underlings to stick to the bad guys and steer clear of the grandma without a driver's license.
So we thought we'd check in on ICE. A progress report of sorts, to see whether they're enforcing federal immigration law intelligently and judiciously. The answer: more like dumbly. Still. According to data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, compiled by Syracuse University and released Monday, in the months following the memo, only 14 percent of those placed in deportation proceedings were accused of an actual crime. Enforcement for immigration infractions -- a violation of civil law -- still comprised the vast majority of detainer notices filed by ICE agents.
In Texas, the biggest deporter of 'em all, the numbers say the same thing. For the fiscal year through the end of September, immigration infractions still make up more than 80 percent of all deportation proceedings in immigration court. Less than three percent are aggravated felonies. Miscellaneous "other criminal charges" account for 13 percent. "National security charges" -- whatever that means -- are less than 3 percent. And Texas deportations for terrorism: nada.
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Perhaps it's time for Morton to issue another memo. Problem is, ever since the union that represents ICE agents cast a unanimous vote for no confidence in the director, it's probably falling on deaf ears.