Monday, July 4, 2011

ICE Agents Slam Obama Administration's Immigration Policy

Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents' union officials throughout the nation issued a unanimous no confidence vote in that agency's Director John Morton on behalf of ICE officers, agents and employees nationwide citing gross mismanagement within the Agency as well as efforts within ICE to create backdoor amnesty through agency policy. And almost one year later, the law enforcement agents and their union haven't changed their minds.

In a biting June 23, 2011 statement, ICE union leaders say that since the June 10, 2010 no confidence vote was first released, problems within their agency have increased, citing the Director's latest Discretionary Memorandum as just one example.

"Any American concerned about immigration needs to brace themselves for what's coming," said Chris Crane, President of the National ICE Council which represents approximately 7,000 ICE agents, officers and employees, "this is just one of many new ICE policies in queue aimed at stopping the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws in the United States. Unable to pass its immigration agenda through legislation, the Administration is now implementing it through agency policy."

As with other federal agencies under his command -- such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and other government entities -- President Barack Obama is expected to use agencies he controls and executive orders to bypass having to work with both houses of Congress to pass legislation.

Crane emphasized that agents, officers, employees and the Union had no input in these policies, "ICE and the Administration have excluded our union and our agents from the entire process of developing policies, it was all kept secret from us, we found out from the newspapers. ICE worked hand-in-hand with immigrants' rights groups, but excluded its own officers."

Agents say the policy is a "law enforcement nightmare" developed by the Administration to win votes at the expense of sound and responsible law enforcement policy. "The desires of foreign nationals illegally in the United States were the framework from which these policies were developed," Crane said, "the result is a means for every person here illegally to avoid arrest or detention, as officers we will never know who we can or cannot arrest."

The union says just as concerning is the way policies are implemented at ICE. Agents claim that under Director John Morton the agency always presents written policies for public consumption, but then makes "secret changes" to the policies which ICE refuses to put in writing.

"The Obama administration department heads have made 'bait and switch' practically an art form," said a former federal law enforcement agent. ICE knows the policy changes will create a political outcry, or could place the public or ICE officers at risk.

"Our officers are already under orders not to make arrests or even talk to foreign nationals in most cases unless another agency has already arrested them; you won't find that written in any public ICE policy," alleges Chris Crane.

With regard to the entire idea of prosecutorial discretion, Agents say they will have none. "Tell any ICE agent he or she will have the final say on making an arrest or holding someone in custody and they'll tell you you're crazy, officers will be ordered not to make arrests and failure to comply will result in the end of the agent or officer's career, that's business as usual at ICE.

It's unfortunate but the Administration protects foreign nationals illegally in the U.S. but does nothing for our employees." The Union also alleges that ICE Field Office Directors (FODs) have confided in the Union that when the FODs raised questions about the effectiveness of the new policies ICE Headquarters responded by telling the FODs to turn in their badges and file for retirement.

"I think the writing is on the wall for every person concerned about good government and effective immigration reforms - the things happening at ICE represent neither, said Crane. We are asking everyone to please email or call your Congressman and Senators immediately and ask them to help stop what's happening at ICE, we desperately need your help."


British human rights law to be reviewed

The Home Office is to review a central plank of human rights law in an admission that it is causing serious damage to Britain's border controls.

A consultation paper to be launched within days will open up a debate on the future of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees "the right to a family life".

Article 8 is increasingly being used by foreign criminals and illegal immigrants to dodge deportation.

A highly-placed source told The Sunday Telegraph that the issue would be raised in a paper on immigration to be issued by Home Secretary Theresa May before Parliament breaks up for the summer.

It comes as this newspaper can reveal that a new Article 8 test case has created a "loophole" which could allow thousands of asylum seekers granted the right to stay in Britain under the Government's "back door amnesty" to bring their families to this country.

Last week, a separate court ruling left the Home Office unable to deport more than 200 Somali immigrants, most of them criminals, after judges in Strasbourg decided that sending them home would breach Article 3 of the convention, which bans inhumane treatment.

The serial offender who brought the case has told this newspaper that he is ashamed of his criminal record and wants to find a job and lead a law-abiding life in Britain.

The issue of immigration has also divided the Cabinet, it has emerged. Downing Street has rejected a plan by Mrs May to put a cap on the number of foreign students allowed to work after they finish their studies in Britain, after resistance from Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.

The developments make it harder for the Coalition to meet its pledges to tighten border controls and cut immigration, after figures last week showed the UK population was growing at its fastest rate for half a century.

The review of Article 8 will aim to ensure the law is applied in a "more balanced way", the Government source said, after a string of cases in which criminals have escaped being sent back to their homelands by claiming they had the right to a family life in the UK.

They have included a drug dealer from the Caribbean who beat his partner and failed to pay child maintenance, and a Sri Lankan robber whose only claim to "family life" was that he had a girlfriend in Britain.

This newspaper has campaigned for a review of the legislation. It is the first time that the Government has indicated that Article 8 needs to be re-examined, and opens the way towards full reform of the law.

The Government source said that including Article 8 in the forthcoming consultation paper on "family immigration rights" should be taken as a "clear signal" that ministers are alarmed by the current situation.

The source said the Government had listened to this newspaper's concerns about "family life" cases, adding: "We do want to start a debate about Article 8 rights and how they can be expressed in a more balanced way."

Our campaign, launched in April, has called on David Cameron to review the laws that cite Article 8 with a view to removing the family life defence from legislation.

The Government source expressed concern about a new test case ruling in which Article 8 was used by an asylum seeker to win permission to bring her family to Britain.

The woman was one of the 161,000 permitted to stay in Britain under the "legacy" scheme after their files were lost in a Home Office blunder. Critics have called the scheme a back door amnesty.

Like most of the asylum seekers who have benefited from the "legacy" scheme, the woman was not awarded full refugee status, which confers automatic rights to bring dependants to Britain, but instead was given the lesser status of "indefinite leave to remain", which does not.

Officials fear the ruling could open the door to more asylum-seekers to bring their families to Britain.

The senior Government source said: "This is a disturbing development and another example of the courts opening up a new loophole.

"Article 8 rights have always been about when you are in this country. If a single person comes here then claims Article 8 rights for relatives then that does take it further."

The test case centres on a woman who fled the war-torn African country of Burundi in 2003 and claimed asylum in Britain. After a long delay, Peace Musabi's case was considered under the legacy scheme and she was granted indefinite leave to remain.

Now she has won a key victory granting her three children permission to come to Britain on Article 8 grounds.

Last week a similar case was brought by Jeto Titti, a mother-of-three who fled Rwanda in 2002. The judge in her case was still considering the verdict this weekend.

In the latest family rights cases, both mothers presented evidence that they genuinely suffered in their war-torn home countries, but there was no claim that their children are fleeing persecution. It opens the prospect of less-deserving applicants bringing similar cases.

Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP, said: "Yet again, inflated interpretations of the right to family life risk undermining all attempts to bring immigration under control.

"I welcome this recognition that Article 8 is creating a serious problem – the review is an opportunity for the coalition to tackle a problem the last government created."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We are going to consult on the family route shortly and look at what requirements we should place on foreign nationals who wish to establish a family life in the UK. This is part of a package of reforms we are putting in place to manage migration.”


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