Despite outcries from concerned groups and civil rights advocates, the government has taken a firm stance in the enforcement of the law. Exactly what does the law says about the apprehension, detention, and removal of undocumented immigrants?
In November 2014, the US Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum to all members of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States outlining the policies to be observed in activities that involve the apprehension and detention of undocumented immigrants in the country. The memorandum also outlined the stance to be taken by immigration enforcement officers regarding the removal or deportation of said undocumented immigrants.
A review of the memorandum reveals that the main concern for the arrest, detention, and subsequent deportation of undocumented immigrants is related to threats to national security and public safety. Additionally, border security is also cited as one of the inherent reasons for the strict enforcement or implementation of the management of undocumented immigrants.
Priorities were set as to who would have to be apprehended, detained, and deported first. The Department’s top priority were individuals who were considered to be threats to national security and public safety as well as convicted felons and individuals who undermined border security. Immigrants who are convicted of misdemeanor charges as well as individuals who violated their immigration provisions received second priority. Immigrants who have violated other immigration laws are to be processed last.
What the memorandum also says is that any individual classified in any Priority groupings cannot be deported if they have qualified for asylum or any other form of relief under existing laws of the United States. The policy also mentioned about the non-mandatory detention of undocumented immigrants who are seriously ill, are disabled, or are elderly. Pregnant and nursing women as well as individuals who are the primary caretakers of children or a sick person are also not subject to mandatory detention.
Furthermore, the policy stipulated discretionary judgments to be exercised by ICE officials and agents. Factors such as existing family and community ties in the US, length of time in the country, and status as a victim are supposed to be considered as qualifying circumstances. Other factors such as poor health, young children, pregnancy, and serious illness should be considered in making the decision to effect the policies of deportation.
These are what the law says. Undocumented immigrants in the United States have as much right to be granted fair treatment if the ICE policy is to be adhered to.
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