Obama’s ICE Chief: ‘Thousands’ of Detained Migrants Should Be Released

John Sandweg, with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, speaks during a news conference on counterfeit merchandise at the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII media center, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo)
AP Photo

President Barack Obama’s immigration enforcement director is urging President Donald Trump to release thousands of migrants from detention facilities into the U.S. jobs market amid an economic meltdown.

“Preventing the [China] virus from being introduced into these facilities is impossible,” according to a March 22 article in the Atlantic by  John Sandweg, Obama’s former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE is fortunate that the threat [to migrants’ health] posed by these detention centers can be mitigated rather easily. By releasing from custody the thousands of detainees who pose no threat to public safety and do not constitute an unmanageable flight risk, ICE can reduce the overcrowding of its detention centers, and thus make them safer, while also putting fewer people at risk.

ICE has 37,000 people caught in detention, and “only a small percentage” should be kept in detention, he suggested. “In fact, only a small percentage of those in ICE detention have been convicted of a violent crime. Many have never even been charged with a criminal offense. ICE can quickly reduce the detained population without endangering our communities,” he wrote.

His Atlantic op-ed ignores the economic impact of releasing 30,000 migrants into Americans’ blue-collar job market, where they can join hundreds of thousands who flooded in during 2019. That huge labor supply reduces blue collar wages and drives up housing costs in blue collar neighborhoods.

His push to release more blue collar migrants comes as House Democrats try to extend the work-permits used by hundreds of thousands of white collar visa workers.

Sandweg framed his catch and release policy as a health and crime issue, saying:

This doesn’t mean that dangerous criminals will be walking the streets. Those who threaten Americans’ safety can and must continue to be detained.

When an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs in an ICE facility, the detainees won’t be the only ones at risk. An outbreak will expose the hundreds of ICE agents and officers, medical personnel, contract workers, and others who work in these facilities to the virus. Once exposed, many of them will unknowingly take the virus home to their family and community.

Many promigration activists and groups are using the coronavirus disease to push for a mass release, regardless of the impact on Americans.

Also, the California-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the release of a migrant on March 23 because of the claimed threat posed by the coronavirus. The published order allows judges in the circuit’s lower courts to order the release of other migrants.

But ICE has already taken many measures to reduce the real risk of the Chinese disease spreading through the confined detention centers.

For example, it has reduced the danger by scaling back arrest of non-violent migrants into the 30-plus detention centers. It has temporarily halted asylum hearings for the 30,000 migrants waiting in Mexico under the”Migrant Protection Protocols” rule.

The agencies are also deporting new border crossers back to Mexico — and flying others back to their distant homelands — without putting them in the ICE detention centers.

The immigration courts are increasing the use of video hearings to minimize the risk of disease transmission between the detained migrants, their lawyers. Court officials also require visitors and lawyers to wear protective gear.

Sandweg worked as the ICE chief and top legal advisor to Obama’s Department of Homeland Security. In the agency, he helped to implement Obama’s 2012 amnesty — dubbed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy — which printed 800,000 work permits for illegals during the extended post-2008 recession.

He is a law graduate who now works at Nixon Peabody, an elite law and advocacy firm with offices in Washington D.C. and many other cities.

The huge 2019 inflow was largely allowed by legal rules established by progressives under Obama, and it ended in early 2020 when Trump and his populists blocked the catch and release of economic migrants into the U.S. labor market.

The migration ended once the would-be migrants realized they could not get U.S. jobs they needed to repay their smuggling debts to the cartel-affiliated coyotes. In January, Trump’s deputies released only about 2,000 migrants into the United States, down from 80,000 in May 2019.

 

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at NMunro@Breitbart.com.

 

 

 

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