The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Marjorie Valbrun,202-463-8602 x305,

Immigration Policy Gets Welcome Dose of Common Sense

ICE Directive Says We Shouldn’t Waste Resources Going After Soon-to-be Legal Residents


A recent memo
from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John
Morton is rooted in basic law enforcement principles, but it is already
being attacked by Administration opponents as "amnesty." The policy
applies only to a defined group of people who are in deportation
proceedings, but have already applied for and are about to obtain legal
immigration status. It directs ICE to halt their deportation
proceedings until a decision is made on the immigration application,
freeing up resources to go after others who are not about to become
legal, taxpaying residents. In company with the ICE leader's commitment
to focus on "the worst of the worst," this development shows that some
of the agency's enforcement priorities are changing for the benefit of
community safety, common sense, the American taxpayer, and family unity.

to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America's Voice, "This is a wise
use of law enforcement resources and a welcome injection of common sense
into ICE policies. Instead of clogging already burdened immigration
courts with people who are about to become legal residents, it allows
the government to focus on dangerous criminals and people who mean our
country harm. While there are still many more changes that need to be
made to immigration enforcement programs in the name of efficiency and
effectiveness, this is a strong step forward."

important to understand that this memo covers only a small fraction of
immigrants in the U.S. illegally -- the 17,000 who are in active
deportation proceedings, have also applied for immigration status
through existing laws, like the family-based immigration system, and are
likely to have those cases approved. It won't give a benefit to anyone
who doesn't qualify for one already; it won't prevent anyone whose
application is denied from being deported in the future; it won't apply
to anyone who poses a threat to public safety; and it won't end
deportation proceedings for the majority of people who are in them.

the common sense nature of the ICE memo, a host of Republican voices in
Congress, such as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), are clearly more
concerned about opposing anything the Obama Administration does than
about making wise use of taxpayer resources. Despite Senator Grassley's
reputation as a budget hawk, he opposes this effort to improve
government efficiency and reacted
to the news by saying, "Unfortunately, it appears this is more evidence
that the Obama administration would rather circumvent Congress and give
a free pass to illegal immigrants who have already broken our law."

to Tramonte, "Americans want solutions to the broken immigration system
- not 'leaders' whose only strategy on immigration is to block progress
at every turn. Does Senator Grassley truly believe that it's efficient
or intelligent to tie up law enforcement resources going after someone
who's about to become a legal resident? This ICE memo is a step
forward, in line with the wishes of the American people. The public also understands
that we cannot fully fix the broken immigration system until we pass
comprehensive immigration reform. Instead of calling every move by the
Obama Administration 'amnesty,' Senator Grassley should get working on
real and lasting immigration reform."

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.