June 28, 2010

“Obama’s got to present to the public at least the facade of enforcement,”

Posted by D.A. King at 3:32 pm - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

Gainesville Times

June 28, 2010
ICE announces strategic plans that could affect deportations

By Stephen Gurr

The federal agency that enforces immigration law has announced changes that may ultimately play a role in determining when people are deported for being in the country illegally.
This month officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a realignment of its removal and detention divisions and a new strategic priority plan for the next four years.

In Hall County, ICE agents determine who is deported under the 287(g) program, a local-federal partnership that detains illegal immigrants if they are brought to the Hall County jail on criminal charges.

Critics have said ICE and local officials should use broader discretion in determining who is deported under 287(g).

In its new strategic plan, the agency says dangerous criminals, including gang members, should be the primary target of its detention and removal efforts.

Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU of Georgia, says that hasn’t always been the case in local 287(g) programs.

“ICE needs to do a better job of communicating to the localities the priorities, to ensure that they are adhered to,” Shahshahani said. “There’s been promises of reform in the immigration detention system, (but) we haven’t seen a lot of changes on the ground.”

D.A. King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, a group that advocates for enforcement of immigration law, said he believes the Obama administration will “cut back on enforcement as a nod to the radical special interest groups who are making that demand.”

King does not believe, however, that the administration will end 287(g) altogether.

“Obama’s got to present to the public at least the facade of enforcement,” he said. “Were he to eliminate 287(g), he wouldn’t have that leg of the stool to stand on. I don’t believe 287(g) will be as strong as it has been, but I don’t believe it will be eliminated.”

Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic, like his counterparts in Cobb and Gwinnett counties, has a policy of starting detention proceedings for any person charged with an arrestable offense while in the country illegally, while ICE agents make the final determination on deportation. More than 2,000 people arrested in Hall County have been deported in the two years the program has been in effect.

Cronic said he was uncertain what changes, if any, the new strategic plan would mean locally.

“As always, we operate under the provisions of the law and what is defined by the memorandum of agreement (with ICE) until told otherwise,” Cronic said…