In the past week, ICE announced a new process to allow incarcerated illegal immigrants facing imminent deportation to have their cases re-examined.
The case review allows migrants to have the circumstances of their arrest, detention, or removal reviewed by the ICE Enforcement and Removal (ERO) Senior Reviewing Official. In essence, the process ensures the most gracious application of immigration law.
In keeping with the recent pleas from progressive politicians to abolish ICE, it appears the agency is taking heart. The process prioritizes the case review for those who are detained and/or facing imminent removal. It is the last-ditch safety net to make sure fewer are removed due to criminal history or immigration violations if they do not meet the new priority categories adopted by the Biden Administration.
The policy change and new case review process is salt in the wound for current ICE agents, some say. Many feel their authority to enforce immigration laws has been decimated. One long-time ICE enforcement officer told Breitbart Texas he believes the priorities will ultimately allow more migrants with criminal records into American communities.
“We are releasing aliens onto the streets after they serve their sentence for criminal offenses. The reason we are told is that we don’t have resources. It’s ridiculous.” he says. “If we can pay for three square meals and medical expenses during their jail time, why can’t we afford to drive them one mile to the border and deport them?”
In the priorities memorandum from Acting Director Tae Johnson, ICE agents now must reach a conclusion that a migrant poses a threat to public safety when deciding to arrest, detain, or remove them. Even if an illegal alien has an aggravated felony conviction or is determined to hold a gang affiliation, ICE agents must consider “extensiveness, seriousness, and recency of criminal activity” as well as mitigating factors such as “personal and family circumstances, health and medical factors, ties to the community, evidence of rehabilitation and available immigration relief.”
ICE agents are ordered to take special care with people who are elderly, mentally ill, or have certain pending motions, appeals, or applications. Removing migrants in these categories also requires special approval. These restrictions are unprecedented.
The new bureaucratic case review process will make sure ICE agents are following the restrictive procedures at the field level. More likely than not, it will encourage ICE agents to apply immigration laws in more relaxed manner than normal. When deciding to detain those who committed crimes below the threshold of the new priorities, the decision to release will be the less troublesome and the most politically advantageous for the career-conscious agent, some warn.
The same ICE agent also reports efforts to release family units from residential family centers is accelerating. These releases can occur within 72 hours versus the 20 days needed for country clearances and removal flight logistics.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas Sector.