In a calculated move to bypass Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton issued a memo on June 17, 2011 directing ICE agents to refrain from enforcing U.S. immigration laws against illegal aliens who meet the qualifications for amnesty under the DREAM Act. In this memo (Morton Memo #2), Director Morton couches this administrative amnesty as merely providing “guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to ensure that the agency’s immigration enforcement resources are focused on the agency’s enforcement priorities.” The memo lists 19 different factors (non-exclusive) agents should consider when deciding whether to take an illegal alien into custody, including:
- The circumstances of the person’s arrival in the U.S. and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the U.S. as a young child;
- The alien’s pursuit of education in the U.S., with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the U.S.;
- Whether the person has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat; and
- The person’s age, with particular consideration given to minors.
But Director Morton was not done implementing amnesty by executive fiat on this day, as he issued a second policy memo (Morton Memo #3), directing ICE agents to refrain from enforcing immigration laws against crime victims, witnesses to crimes, and “individuals pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints.” However, his directive is much broader. In particular, he instructs ICE personnel to consider individuals engaging in a protected activity related to civil or other rights (for example, union organizing or complaining to authorities about employment discrimination or housing conditions) who may be in a non-frivolous dispute with an employer, landlord, or contractor. In the absence of “serious adverse factors”—which include a “serious criminal history,” involvement in a “serious crime” or being a “threat to public safety”—Morton told agents that “exercising favorable discretion, such as release from detention and deferral or a stay of removal generally, will be appropriate.”
Read more at FAIR’s President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement.