Saturday, March 21, 2015

“Thank you. Yes. Amen”

Sarah Saldaña and Mick Mulvaney

LOS ANGELES, CA (PR) — ICE Director Sarah Saldaña issued a press release attempting to clarify her position on ICE’s unconstitutional practice that compelled police to detain immigrants. During a House Oversight hearing, Rep. Mick Mulvaney asked Saldaña if she would support legislation to mandate that “local communities cooperate” with ICE. Saldaña reponded, “Thank you. Yes. Amen.” The bizarre series of statements leaves uncertainty about the agency head’s position on DHS Secretary Johnson’s November 20, 2014 memo ending ICE's controversial and discredited Secure Communities deportation policy.  

In response to Director Saldaña’s recent statements and to news of recent deportations in Iowa and Philadelphia, Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), issued the following statement:

“Is ICE heading backward? There is an astonishing dissonance between the White House’s initiative to build community trust in law enforcement and it’s highly disingenuous deportation policy which felonizes immigrants and insists on transforming local police into frontline enforcers of unjust and outdated immigration laws. Director Saldaña’s recent remarks are exactly the kind of doublespeak that plagued the Secure Communities legacy for years. Indeed, we have yet to hear anyone clarify why SCOMM’s failed dragnet is still intact or operational, which is why we have demanded answers compelled by the Freedom of Information Act.

"The fact that the President has ostensibly offered relief to some immigrants does not excuse his policies which criminalize other immigrants. The president's pledge to target 'felons not families' is offensive to all those seeking to reform a criminal justice system that is plagued by a legacy of white supremacy. And Secretary Johnson’s recent invocation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory in defense of these new deportation policies is quite simply reprehensible. If the President wants to undo his legacy as “Deporter-in-Chief”, he must take steps immediately to advance equality for all immigrants, particularly as his limited DAPA initiative languishes in the courts.” 

Statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Saldaña

Yesterday, during my testimony before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I was asked whether it would help if Congress clarified the law to make it clear that it was mandatory that local jurisdictions cooperate with ICE.  I want to be sure there is no confusion about my response.

In November 2014, Secretary Johnson directed ICE to end the Secure Communities program, and replace it with the new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), a transition that is underway now.  I fully support this new approach. PEP contemplates a cooperative approach toward public safety, not mandatory federal requirements. The reality is that Secure Communities had become legally and politically controversial, and led to the enactment by numerous jurisdictions of laws, ordinances, directives and policies that limit their cooperation with ICE in our efforts to promote public safety. 

The new program, PEP, is a common-sense approach to immigration enforcement and public safety, that closely and clearly reflects DHS’ new enforcement priorities, and Secretary Johnson and I have now embarked upon an aggressive plan to engage state, county and local officials to seek their cooperation with PEP. It is critical that PEP be implemented in a way that also supports community policing and sustains the trust of all elements of the community in working with law enforcement.  

That’s why we are also in the process of engaging local communities and stakeholders as well. The overriding objective is public safety, while implementing this new approach in a way that upholds the trusted relationships local law enforcement need to build with and among their communities, and we believe these officials will recognize and concur with our goals.  Any effort at federal legislation now to mandate state and local law enforcement’s compliance with ICE detainers will, in our view, be a highly counterproductive step and lead to more resistance and less cooperation in our overall efforts to promote public safety.

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