January 4, 2012. Washington. In a shocking and unprecedented move last week, the Obama administration reversed the nation’s illegal immigration policy. On December 29, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced new measures in dealing with illegal immigrants. Instead of accepting custody of illegal aliens for deportation, ICE will now only accept illegal immigrants who have been arrested, tried and convicted of a separate criminal offense. In short, illegal immigration is no longer considered a crime by the Federal government.
ICE will only take custody of illegals after they’ve been tried and convicted of other crimes.
A separate section of the ICE bulletin announcing the policy change also contains information regarding the new toll free phone number ICE has set up to aid individuals arrested and facing possible deportation. If the ICE announcement can be taken at its word, it states, “The new measures include a new detainer form and the launch of a toll-free hotline – (855) 448-6903 – that detained individuals can call if they believe they may be US citizens or victims of a crime.”
This could be viewed as a type of ‘emergency stop’ button for American citizens on the verge of being deported, as well as a whistle-blower hotline for immigrants of any legal status that are being victimized by corrupt US agents. On the other hand, future reality may prove this policy to be an illegal immigrant advocacy program. But as it’s currently stated, the toll free number would be used to protect all individuals from predatory and criminal government agents.
Sanctuary status nationwide
The part of the announcement that has shocked many on both sides of the immigration policy debate is the section that reads:
“The new form allows ICE to make the detainer operative only upon the individual’s conviction of the offense for which he or she was arrested.”
In other words, ICE will only deport illegal immigrants if they are convicted of something other than illegal immigration. Or assumedly, ICE would still deport illegals if they are arrested, tried and convicted of illegal immigration on the Federal level. But maybe not.
Under current law and its previous interpretation, local authorities are allowed to detain illegal immigrants for up to 48 hours longer than they normally would be allowed to, but only if Federal authorities submit an official ‘detainer’ request. Now, ICE will only submit the request for individuals tried and convicted of separate crimes.
“Lots of criminal aliens will be released if the locals don’t have the resources or inclination to prosecute, or if the [suspect] is found not guilty because of a technicality,” Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Caller this weekend. “We’ll have more and more instances of illegals released by police because [federal immigration officials] wouldn’t take them, who then go on to commit some heinous crime,” he added.
The new policy also requires local authorities to provide all detainees with a copy of their rights, in the form of the detainer form, including the fact that they can’t be held more than 48 hours. If they are held longer than that, or if their “civil rights or civil liberties” are violated, the suspected illegal immigrant is required to be informed of how to make an official complaint. To insure detainees understand their rights, the detainer form will be printed in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese.
The Chicago connection
The announcement by ICE of their new policy to refuse to deport illegal immigrants shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. In President Obama’s home town of Chicago, Cook County became the first county in the nation to stop turning illegal immigrants over to ICE for deportation. The local ordinance was passed by a 10-5 vote of the Cook County Board. Read the Chicago Independen Examiner article, ‘County Votes 10-5 to Release Violent Felons’ for details. One month later, Chicago and Cook County actually went ahead and began releasing illegal immigrants, arrested and accused of felonies, into society rather than turn them over for deportation. Read the follow-up Examiner article titled, ‘Cook County Violent Felon Release Experiment’ for more information.
While few details are available detailing the success or failure of Chicago’s new illegal immigrant release program, the rest of the nation won’t have to wait long. With budget shortfalls and prison overcrowding already major problems, it’ll be difficult for local police departments across the country to do anything other than release these individuals back into American society. Detaining, feeding, sheltering, trying and convicting each and ever illegal immigrant on separate criminal charges would be so expensive, it’s just not possible.