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Survey finds Immigration Inconsistent in Applying Prosecutorial Discretion

Posted by Michael Pollak on Nov 9, 2011 5:13:00 PM

Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) released a new survey today finding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and attorneys across the country are applying different standards on prosecutorial discretion despite the issuance of national policy memoranda this summer.  The June 17, 2011, memo outlines for ICE agents and attorneys the criteria that would make an immigration removal case a low priority for enforcement action. These criteria include ties to America including service in the U.S. armed forces, schooling, contributions to the community, and other equities for enforcement officials to consider when deciding what course of action to take in a particular case.

The survey reflects information on all 28 offices across the United States.  Shockingly, the survey reveals that most ICE offices have ignored headquarters memoranda.  “We felt that ICE’s June 2011 memoranda about the use of prosecutorial discretion in certain types of immigration cases were clear and straightforward,” said AILA President Eleanor Pelta. “But,” Pelta continued, “these survey results show that ICE agents and attorneys are not willing to use the discretion they are responsible for implementing without further guidance. They are asking for more, and the agency’s leadership should help them get it,” said Pelta.

According to Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, "the June 2011 memo lays out a basic premise in law enforcement: the proper exercise of discretion is an integral part of any law enforcement effort to focus its resources effectively. If, as this survey reveals, many local immigration officials are unwilling to accept this basic premise, then the challenge for DHS and ICE is to back the memo up with the leadership, training and support necessary to make sure that these policies are actually being implemented."

The full survey may be reviewed at  Holding DHS Accountable on Prosecutorial Discretion, which evidences that while some ICE offices have begun to implement the guidance, most have not and many are actively resistant. Some officials said their jobs are “to arrest and deport.” 

To view the survey in it's entirety, see:

Tags: AILA, prosecutorial discretion, Immigration, enforcement

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