At the risk of alienating readers who come to this blog to see both serious and silly content about the impact of industrial wind, I will take liberty to touch on another Allegheny Treasure – equal protection under the law.
This post is inspired by an article posted today at the Cumberland (Maryland) Times-News, “Legal options exhausted, Mineral husband, father will likely be deported.” In her typical excellent style, writer Megan Miller covers the dire circumstance surrounding soon to be deported Serge Babo, and his family, so there is really no need for me to repeat the details of the article. I do highly recommend that you read the article.
Before everyone takes sides, your view on immigration, immigration reform, illegal aliens, border protection, a fence or amnesty is not important here. There are tons of blogs available for you to vent your views on the subject. What I would like to deal with today is the government in place in Washington that knowingly and willingly enables a federal agency to exert tyrannical powers within the borders of the United States.
The President and Congress, as with Presidents and Congresses past, are complicit in a serious offense to civility and ignoring, if not directly, at least the intent of the Constitution.
How? Allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to apply law at its discretion enables the worst form of tyranny – a government official with the power to decide your fate by enforcing, or at their own choosing, not enforcing the law. Power at its intimidating worst.
The real shame is that this tyranny is practiced openly and with the consent of the President and Congress. Even as the Washington bureaucracy blunders on, the President flies about on his fund-raising junket/vacation and Congress goes home to find a way to further enrich themselves with a couple more years on the public dole, I.C.E continues to dish out its selective terror.
The issue I address is not the legality of prosecutions, but the potential for abuse resulting from the policies/statements of John T. Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and supported by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama, to whom the agency ultimately reports.
Take a look at recent policy statements from Mr. Morton:
A couple of days ago in an interview, Mr. Morton bragged about the great job the Obama Administration is doing to “go after” illegal aliens:
VAN SUSTEREN: And that is a 10 percent increase over the fiscal year 2008, which is the last fiscal year of the Bush administration. So you’re up. You’re up 10 percent.
MORTON: We’re not only up 10 percent, we have brought renewed vigor to the immigration enforcement laws of the country. We are going to set a record number of removals of criminal offenders this year. No administration in the history of this nation removed more illegal immigrants from the country than we did last year. And I expect the records to continue. We’re serious about enforcement. We’re going to go out and we’re just going to do it. We’re just — follow a sensible tough, rational priorities.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, and I know you’re not soft on crime. You’re a life-long prosecutor.
MORTON: That’s right.
VAN SUSTEREN: So it’s not like — like you’re sort of getting weak- kneed on the whole issue of illegal immigration.
MORTON: No, listen, we deal in a world of limited resources. We are appropriated enough resources from Congress every year to remove about 400,000 people. That’s less than 4 percent of the 10.8 million people who are here unlawfully.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don’t…
MORTON: So we got — we have to establish a rational set of priorities. And from our perspective, you got to start with national security cases, criminal offenders, border security and people who game the system. That’s what we’re about.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don’t think people realize that, is that — I mean, you’re a life-long prosecutor (INAUDIBLE) I’ve dealt with you life-long prosecutors! You want to — you want get people who are violating the law, and that you only can deport those that you can afford to deport. And you get every single one of — every single dime you get is from Congress. You don’t get it from any outside place. So if they gave you more money, I take it, you would deport more.
MORTON: That’s right. We use the resources that we’re given by Congress to do the best job that we can under the circumstances. And when we have limited resources, not enough to allow us to identify and remove every single person in this country, we got to focus on those people that are threatening public safety first and foremost. We got to make sure the border’s secure, and we got to make that people aren’t gaming the system. So that’s what we’re doing.
Last week in Arizona: “We are about enforcing the laws sensibly within the resources Congress gives us.” ICE has the resources to remove about 400,000 people a year, he said. The question is, he added: Who should those 400,000 people be? “From my perspective, it ought to be public safety, getting criminals off the streets, securing our border and making sure we go after people who game the system. Period,” Morton said.
June: The new guidelines are outlined in a June 29 memo from Assistant Secretary John Morton, who heads the agency, to all ICE employees regarding the apprehension, detention and removal of illegal immigrants, noting that the agency “only has resources to remove approximately 400,000 aliens per year, less than 4 percent of the estimated illegal-alien population in the United States.”
Mr. Morton said ICE needed to focus wisely on the limited resources Congress had provided the agency and would “prioritize the apprehension and removal of aliens who only pose a threat to national security and/or public safety, such as criminals and terrorists.”
“With this prioritization, we will ensure that our work has the greatest possible impact and most effectively advances our mission,” Mr. Morton said, adding that the new guidelines were necessary “in light of the large number of administrative violations the agency is charged with addressing and the limited enforcement resources the agency has available.”
Under the directive, ICE officials are authorized under a three-level priority system to use enforcement personnel, detention space and removal resources if they are assured that any deportations that do occur “promote ICE’s highest enforcement priorities; namely, national security, public safety and border security.”
Listed as the agency’s top priority, according to the memo, are illegal immigrants who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety; those convicted of violent crimes, both felons and repeat offenders; those older than 16 who participated in organized criminal gangs; and those with outstanding criminal warrants.
Described in the memo as lesser priorities are foreign nationals caught crossing the border illegally or using phony immigration documents to gain entry, and those identified as fugitives after failing to show up for immigration or deportation hearings.
How you get from “promoting the highest enforcement priorities: namely national security, public safety and border security” to sending 4 officers after an evidently peaceful Mr. Babo is a bit difficult for me to understand.
I.C.E. will claim statistical victory when Mr. Babo leaves the country, yet we are no safer. We are perhaps weaker because as 4 agents took the time to arrest Mr. Babo in his home while doing dishes for his family, and further efforts were spent to incarcerate and remove him from this country, you can rest assured a criminal here illegally was actually committing a crime.
A question then for Mr. Morton, Ms. Napolitano and especially you Mr. President … are you really serious about protecting folks in the US? If you are, you’ll immediately stop the tyranny of selective enforcement. If you do not have the necessary tools available to enforce equally for all 12, 14 or 20 million illegals and find you must make choices, do so. But you must then truly focus on the criminal element which threatens me. And that does not seem to include individuals such as Mr. Babo, no matter how much he means to your performance statistics.
And for you readers, whatever your view on immigration, I would think controlling the discretionary powers of officials who have the to power to arrest you might be at the top of your freedom list. It certainly is for me.
Finally Mr. Morton, if you truly focus on the criminal element until a remedy for the issue grinds its way through the gathering of self-serving individuals we know as Congress, your efforts may well be rewarded. Keep in mind that consistency is a critical component of fairness.
And, after all, fairness is what every individual deserves!