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If you have heard of the ‘Morton Memo’, you have probably heard it as something to be happy about. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton has urged his agency to utilize “prosecutorial discretion”, meaning that it may not pursue deportations as vigorously as it has. Unfortunately, this memo isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. There aren’t any guarantees that undocumented youth are now safe from deportation-it shouldn’t be thought of as anything remotely reassuring. In fact, President Obama just deported asylum-seeker Andy Mathe the day after personally finding out about the case.

Here’s a brief overview of this much talked about memo and what it means for you.

The Memo, ICE and Obama

On June 17, John Morton put into writing what President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano have been saying for months: that DREAM Act-eligible youth are not a deportation priority. Despite that, as you’ve seen from the continued need for petitions, undocumented youth are still winding up in proceedings (and deported, as mentioned above).

Overall, ICE has been taking heat for two of its programs under the ICE ACCESS umbrella of law enforcement partnerships, 287(g) and Secure Communities, making the Morton Memo appear to be a concession to satisfy critics who have rightly accused ICE of rounding up immigrants without respect their civil rights and civil liberties or the due process of law, let alone the nuances of their cases. As the National Day Laborers Organizing Network pointed out, President Obama has now deported more immigrants than President Eisenhower under Operation Wetback in the early 1950s.

A Brief History of Prosecutorial Discretion

The Morton Memo is another development in a history of prosecutorial discretion that goes back to the Clinton Administration and changes to immigration law in the past two decades.

Long before the Morton Memo, a previous memorandum on prosecutorial discretion written by INS Commissioner Doris Meissner in 2000 established significant authority for prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases. After Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1996, judges in immigration court lost a lot of their ability to use, well, judgment on individual cases. INS was forced to make better decisions about where it allocated its resources now that immigration judges would no longer be able to grant as much relief from removal as they once had. Meissner’s memo places a greater emphasis on “substantial Federal interest,” meaning that prosecutorial discretion permits ICE not to pursue cases-even “legally sufficient” ones-which don’t benefit the federal government in any way. Meissner’s memo also lists cases in which discretion should be used and categories of people that should “trigger” favorable discretion. Some of those triggers should sound familiar: “Juveniles;” “Aliens with lengthy presence in United States (i.e., 10 years or more); and “aliens present in the United States since childhood.” The memo also notes that “community attention” is a factor to consider when discretion might be possible.

The Morton Memo and today’s politics

In 2011, what does the Morton memo say? Nothing too different from the previous policy directive. It doesn’t say anything about the DREAM Act. However, many of the factors ICE should use to consider backing off would apply to undocumented youth:

the circumstances of the person’s arrival in the United States and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child;
[...]
the person’s pursuit of education in the United States, 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 United States;
[...]
whether the person, or the person’s immediate relative,has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat;
[...]
the person’s criminal history, including arrests, prior convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants;
[...]
the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;

But as previously noted, there are no guarantees that undocumented youth will not be deported. In fact, Meissner’s memo was far more rooted in looking at the merits of individual cases and the radical idea that law enforcement officials ought to do more than round people up and ship people out. The Morton Memo is based more in budgetary concerns rather than humanitarian ones.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and several other senators have claimed that the Morton Memo was an attempt to “grant administrative amnesty“, but this is the same Jeff Sessions that lied on the Senate floor when he said that undocumented immigrants could already join the military during the December DREAM Act vote. There’s no reason to take him seriously on this. As a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, Sessions is supposed to be an expert on immigration, so the only explanations are that he’s a liar or that he is completely undeserving of his position.

The history of prosecutorial discretion and its present reiteration reveal the root of the problem: a system that is too narrowly focused on deportations. Such a narrow focus is ill-fit for the present reality, and one that we wouldn’t tolerate from any other law enforcement agency. Police have to do more than make arrests-immigration officers have to do more than raids and deportations. Prosecutorial discretion isn’t a solution, or even really a benefit. One way or another, it shouldn’t be thought of as a pro-migrant accomplishment by the Obama Administration.

Rep. David Price supports the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, he also supports Secure Communities, a program under which DREAMers and their families could be deported. If you have time to go to Durham tonight and speak out against the program, you should.

While the program is billed as an anti-crime initiative, the program, along with 287(g), is utilized as a dragnet against immigrants with which police can hand over any undocumented immigrant they come in contact with. This has led to several victims of domestic violence receiving deportation orders after coming forward to the police. There are questions also about the capacity of some jurisdictions to handle the additional workload that S-Comm requires.

It was recently discovered that the Department of Homeland Security was being purposefully deceptive about the voluntary nature of the Secure Communities program. In other words, in the effort to increase enforcement, the Obama Administration has found it perfectly acceptable to lie to police about their responsibilities.

The town hall will be held from 7-8:30 PM at the Durham County Main Library, 300 North Roxboro St., Durham, NC 27701.

By Domenic Powell

Just days before the American Renaissance has its national conference in North Carolina, ALIPAC has released a statement defending the race-science publication. The American Renaissance recently made national headlines when Fox News released a memo stating that the Department of Homeland Security was directing “strong suspicion” at the publication. It was later reported that DHS had nothing to do with the statement, and Fox didn’t provide where its source came from.

That hasn’t stopped ALIPAC—which is based in North Carolina—from calling for a Congressional investigation of DHS in a statement released January 21:

“ALIPAC is calling on members of Congress to investigate why the Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to the media containing false information implying that the Tucson shooter Jared Loughner, was motivated by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ religion and stance in favor of Amnesty [sic] for illegal immigrants.”

As Politico reported ten days before ALIPAC released its statement, the erroneous memo came from the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, not the DHS. The memo was improperly sourced by Fox News, but even that was determined over a week ago.

The Christian Science Monitor referred to the American Renaissance as an anti-immigrant group, but the primary focus of the publication is race science rather than immigration policy. The February 2011 issue discusses migration to Europe more than the United States, and does so in the context of racial preservation. It also assumes an all-white audience:

“In Life After the Collapse, Thomas Jackson reviews Archeofuturism by French author Guillaume Faye (written in 1998 and only recently translated into English). This remarkable book peers into the near and distant future, and sees “multiculturalism” running its course, leading to the fracturing and disintegration of Western nations, and speculates on what will emerge from the rubble. Dr. Faye fully recognizes the significance of race and, while strongly connected to the European peoples and their cultures, he prescribes a complete revolution of the current order as soon as possible to maximize the chances for the long-term survival of our descendants.”

The American Renaissance will hold its major conference February 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The conference will focus on “Defending the West.” The announcement of the conference states that “Ours is an era of fear and self-censorship. Virtually no whites are willing to break taboos about racial differences in IQ, the costs of “diversity,” or the challenges of non-white immigration. We are different. We believe these are vital questions.”

ALIPAC has made a serious error by perpetuating misinformation long after it was determined to be faulty. They are calling for unwarranted investigations into DHS, stirring opposition and fear of the federal government. They have done so in the defense of an organization that promotes policy that favors whites over other groups—more blatantly speaking, in defense of an organization that supports white supremacy. Any public official that is contacted by ALIPAC supporters about this issue should rebuke the organization immediately.

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@NCDREAMTeam

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