There's a better response to abuse than abolishing ICE

There's a better response to abuse than abolishing ICE
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Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandTeen girls pen open letter supporting Kavanaugh accuser: We imagine you at that party and 'see ourselves' Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — GOP again has momentum on Kavanaugh rollercoaster MORE (D-N.Y.) has brought the campaign to abolish ICE into the mainstream by adding her support to the cause. She is a prominent Democrat who is a possible 2020 presidential contender. Her support may encourage more high-profile politicians to back the idea.

President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE, however, is sure that ICE is not going to be abolished:

In any case, it wouldn’t accomplish anything to abolish ICE.

ICE has two separate divisions, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

ERO enforces the nation’s immigration laws. It identifies, arrests, and removes deportable aliens.

Reasons for abolishing ICE

Gillibrand has said:

"I believe that (ICE) has become a deportation force … and that's why I believe you should get rid of it.”

She also has said:

We believe that we should protect families that need our help, and that is not what ICE is doing today, and that’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it, and build something that actually works.”

She seems to be referring to ERO, which can be described as a “deportation force.” It is not apparent why she thinks that is a reason to abolish it, or why she thinks it should be protecting families who need our help.

Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanBlue wave poses governing risks for Dems Trump Jr., Dem congressman spar over Ellison's association with Farrakhan Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen MORE (D-Wis.) has said, ICE is “hunting down and tearing apart families.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act has provisions that provide relief from deportation, but none that provide a blanket waiver for deportable aliens who have families.

Angel Padilla, the policy director of The Indivisible Project, says that ICE​ is “terrorizing American communities” by “going into schools, entering hospitals, (and) conducting massive raids.”

Dan Canon, who is running for Congress in Indiana, says, “ICE as it presently exists is an agency devoted almost solely to cruelly and wantonly breaking up families. The agency talks about, and treats, human beings like they’re animals.”

ERO shouldn’t terrorize anyone, but it has to be able to arrest deportable aliens where they can be found.  

The main reason for wanting to abolish ICE is likely to prevent undocumented aliens who are here for a better life from being deported.

But if ICE were to be abolished, its responsibilities would be assigned to another agency and Trump would require the new agency to implement the same policies.

Trump’s enforcement policies

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFord taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination Presidential approval: It's the economy; except when it's not MORE focused his immigration enforcement program primarily on aliens who had been convicted of crimes in the United States, had been caught near the border after an illegal entry, or had returned unlawfully after being deported.

Once an undocumented alien had succeeded in crossing the border without being apprehended, he did not have to worry about being deported unless he was convicted of a serious crime. He was home free.

This created a “home free magnet” which encouraged more undocumented aliens to come and do whatever they had to do to cross the border.

Trump acknowledged this problem in his Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States:

“We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”

He directed DHS “to employ all lawful means to ensure the faithful execution of the immigration laws of the United States against all removable aliens.”

Nevertheless, he prioritized removing aliens who are inadmissible on criminal and related grounds, on security and related grounds, and for misrepresentations, or who are deportable for criminal offenses or on security and related grounds, and removable aliens who:

  • Have been convicted of any criminal offense;
  • Have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;
  • Have committed acts that constitute a criminal offense;
  • Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or government application;
  • Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
  • Are subject to a final order of removal but have not left the United States; or
  • In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

ERO officers are free to arrest aliens who are not in a prioritized category, but this wouldn’t be happening often if sanctuary policies had not required ERO officers to change their enforcement operations.

Sanctuary policies prevent local police departments from turning inmates over to ERO when they are released from custody, so ERO is spending more of its time looking for deportable aliens in communities. This resulted in arresting 40,000 noncriminal aliens in FY 2017.

But ERO should not be engaging in improper behavior to make these or any other arrests.  

DHS has provided avenues for public feedback and complaints, and ICE has Community Relations Officers at every field office.

If you see an ICE officer doing something improper, report him. This is far more likely to improve the situation than calling for the abolishment of ICE.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.