Friday, June 24, 2011

New ICE Memo Released

Last Friday, ICE director John Morton released a memo urging officers to exercise prosecutorial discretion when dealing with undocumented people. Prosecutorial discretion is “the authority of an agency or officer charged with enforcing a law to decide whether to enforce the law in a particular case” (Immigration Policy Center). In other words, it is an officer’s ability to decide which case he/she wants to pursue. The memo describes some basic guidelines when it comes to prioritizing cases: the people who are trying to harm the United States should be dealt with first so that ICE’s limited resources do not go to waste.

This memo is different from previous memos because it outlines specific factors that officers should take into account. First, there are 19 categories that officers should think about when deciding how to proceed. They include anything from the age of the person to whether the person has family who are citizens, from the person’s criminal history to whether the person is the primary caretaker for a seriously ill family member. In addition, there are 8 positive factors that the memo says should “prompt particular care and consideration” (ICE Memo). Among those are whether the person is a veteran or member of the U.S. armed forces and if the person has lived in the United States since childhood. It is implied that exercising prosecutorial discretion with people that fall under these categories means not necessarily deporting them immediately.

While this memo is in no way a substitute for the DREAM Act, it is certainly a step in the right direction. Now we just have to wait and see what ICE officers will do.

Click here to check out the article


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