A new policy change was announced on Friday by the Obama Administration that will lead to a smarter enforcement of immigration laws. This new change will also allow law enforcement to allocate their time more towards deporting dangerous felons and less on innocent minor offenders that are not considered a threat to society.
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The new policy places stricter conditions on the procedures when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sends requests to local law enforcement agencies. This procedure, known as a detainer, will now only be issued for “those who have been convicted or charged with a felony, who have three or more misdemeanor convictions, or have one conviction or charge for misdemeanor crimes like sexual abuse, drunken driving, weapons possession or drug trafficking.” There will be no detainers issued for those with no convictions or records of only petty offenses such as traffic violations. This latter group tends to make up the majority of the detainers which used to clog the system and used limited law enforcement funds in an inefficient manner.
ICE’s director has stated that the agency’s goals are to set priorities and maximize public safety. By making stricter regulations that prevent law enforcement from using up valuable time on those who do not threaten the well being of society, there will now be more resources dedicated to ensuring those with serious convictions will receive more attention from law enforcement. While ICE should have been using their prosecutorial discretion all along, they have also been expelling people at a pace of 400,000 per year. Thousands of these people were noncriminals or minor offenders. With a new program called Secure Communities, which uses a fingerprinting program that increases the number of minor offenders caught nationwide, no longer requires law enforcement to issue detainers for these individuals.
Many cities have been reluctant to cooperate with ICE’s detainers for reasons such as proportionality and public safety. Secure Communities and detainers have caused frustration for many officials who say that in the end, immigrant communities will need to trust and work together with law enforcement even as they shy away from their federal role.
The new policy now draws a clearer line of the distinct responsibilities for states, cities, and the federal ICE agency. These stricter policies should allow police to focus more on public safety and makes individuals less vulnerable to arrests by officers who may target immigrants.
If you have questions regarding deportation or have a family member who is currently being held by ICE, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.