A recent survey conducted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, (AILA), to nobody's surprise, found that U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a spotty record of applying prosecutorial discretion.
The survey concluded that ICE officers and attorneys across the country are applying different standards on prosecutorial discretion despite the issuance of national policy memoranda this summer. The report, which includes information about all 28 ICE offices nationwide, shows that most ICE offices have not even implemented the two headquarters' memos. These discrepancies reflect a need for ICE and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership to issue additional guidance to its rank and file.
"We felt that ICE's June 2011 memoranda about the use of prosecutorial discretion in certain types of immigration cases were clear and straightforward," said AILA President Eleanor Pelta. "But," Pelta continued, "These survey results show that ICE agents and attorneys are not willing to use the discretion they are responsible for implementing without further guidance. They are asking for more, and the agency's leadership should help them get it," said Pelta.
The June 17, 2011, memo outlines for ICE agents and attorneys the factors that would deem an immigration case a low priority for enforcement action. They include ties to America including service in the U.S. armed forces, schooling, contributions to the community, and other equities for enforcement officials to consider when deciding what course of action to take in a particular case.
What AILA seemingly found is an institutional aversion to applying any form of discretionary relief to the immigrant community. Many ICE officers and attorneys are actively resistant. Some officials said their jobs are "to arrest and deport." So the rank-and-file ICE officers are continuing unabated in their wholesale efforts to deport as many people and quickly as possible, even in the face of leadership that is telling them to slow down and not to tear families apart.