Friday, February 10, 2012

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Hires Officer to Chat With Detainees

In a time when America’s immigration system is swamped – when illegal immigrants are routinely caught and released, many of whom are dangerous – it seems that one of ICE’s top priorities is public relations with illegal immigration advocates. Yesterday, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait announced via the Department of Homeland Security website that he had been named ICE’s “first-ever public advocate.”

His job will be to “serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, NGOs, and other community and advocacy groups, who have concerns, questions, recommendations or important issues they would like to raise.”

This new role, says Lorenzen-Strait, will help ICE “focus the agency’s immigration enforcement resources on sensible priorities” – code for doing less, since the Obama Administration consistently makes a big deal out of the notion that most illegal immigrants aren’t dangerous and therefore should be left to their own devices – and “implement policies and processes that priorities the health and safety of detainees in our custody.” And he has one more job, according to ICE Enforcement Director John Morton: he’ll have to explain to all of us why ICE lets illegal immigrants off the hook.

What did Lorenzen-Strait used to do? He’s been with ICE since 2008. Before that, he was a pro bono attorney in Maryland, doing child advocacy and divorce work via Community Legal Services. How does that qualify you for working in immigration, exactly? And then there’s the question of money spent. It’s more and more obvious these days that working for the government is the quickest road to a healthy paycheck – and Lorenzen-Strait’s salary proves it. In 2010, he was paid $112,224 by the feds. We can only imagine that the salary has risen since then. Not bad for being a public relations officer who does nothing to actually enforce immigration law.

We’re constantly hearing that the government has trouble finding places to cut spending. This seems like a good place to start.


Australia: $1bn to keep "asylum-seekers" in detention

THE Federal Government has been handed a $1 billion bill for the running of Australia's detention centres.

Foreign-owned global security company Serco secretly renegotiated its contract with the Department of Immigration just before Christmas.

The new four-year contract to manage immigration detention centres - including Maribyrnong in Melbourne - has quadrupled from the original figure of $280 million.

The Opposition labelled the blowout a failed "stimulus program" for asylum seekers. The number of detention centres has increased from 12 to 20 under Labor.

While the centres accommodate visa overstayers and illegal workers, the Government admits they make up a small number compared with asylum seekers.

"When Labor came to office there were just four people in detention who had arrived illegally by boat," Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said. "After four years of policy failures on our borders, this grew to more than 5600."

The variation to the contract with Serco - from 2009 to 2014 - was made on December 2 last year. It had been revalued in July last year to $712 million, meaning the cost blowout in the past nine months is almost $400 million.

"The original contract did not cover the number of sites we have now expanded to," Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan said. "It has been driven by a simple reason - the expansion in the number of centres in the network."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the new contract would not affect the Budget.

Greens senator Sarah Hansen-Young said boat people should be immediately released from detention into the community.


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