ICE Says The Hell With The President, DHS; Orders Officers To Remove ALL Undocumented Immigrants

from the pretty-much-Eric-Cartman dept

The travel ban, extreme vetting, and vastly increased deportations of undocumented immigrants were all sold to us under the theory these methods would eject the worst of the worst from our country and keep those worsts from returning. In the president’s own words, these tactics were not supposed to turn the entire US into Maricopa County, Arizona with a few thousand mini-Sheriff Arpaios running “get the brown out” fiefdoms.

That isn’t how any of this has turned out. The travel ban the government’s lawyers insist isn’t a ban is being contested in court, even as the president himself repeatedly refers to it as a “ban.” Extreme vetting has morphed into greater intrusiveness for everyone at the borders, even US citizens. The TSA — under new DHS leadership — has raised and abandoned a variety of new boarding measures, each one seemingly more invasive than the last.

Mission creep is the mission, as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has (inadvertently) made clear.

A new document received by ProPublica under a Freedom of Information Act request demonstrates that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has adopted a policy that conflicts with both President Trump’s executive order (EO) and public Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidelines on immigration enforcement. I commented for the story, which you can read here.

The bottom line is that the memo shows that for months, ICE has been requiring agents to arrest all unauthorized immigrants whom they “encounter,” regardless of whether they are otherwise priorities for removal. Previously, ICE had admitted that it sometimes arrests non-prioritized immigrants, but this memo goes much further, requiring them to do so in all cases.

Presidential directives and DHS memos have given ICE plenty to work with. Both insist on prioritizing deportations but contain enough wiggle words like “may” and “shall” that ICE can toss prioritization out the window without severely distorting the guiding directives. But a plain reading of the obtained ICE memo shows the agency completely disregarding outside guidance. ICE would rather deploy its limited workforce as inefficiently as possible.

Under the Trump EO, no one is “exempt” from potential removal, but officers are instructed to use their discretion to focus on those who fit these priorities. Notably absent from this list: every unauthorized immigrant “encountered” by an ICE officer.

This wording is in the excutive order for two reasons: to avoid legal challenges and to prevent manpower waste. ICE apparently feels it’s been ordered to toss out every immigrant agents come across, whether or not they pose a safety risk and/or have a criminal record.

The ICE memo [PDF] cuts the waffling fat from the EOs and directives:

Effective immediately ERO officers will take action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.

The memo belatedly tries to hedge this sentence by instructing officers to apply their better judgment to alien encounters. Personal discretion can be a wonderful tool, but it’s blunted by the first sentence, which contains no wiggle words: only the word “will.” Trying to reconcile contradictory instructions is more likely to result in officers feeling the first sentence overrides the guidance following it. ICE’s new prime directive is REMOVE ALL.

As Cato’s David Bier points out, the ICE memo has “rogue agency” written all over it.

The memo proves that the agency wants to have as few limits as possible on its authority, and it believes that no one in the White House or in DHS will stop them, even when it ignores their orders. This effect is not new to the Trump administration. ICE flouted the executive actions of President Obama as well. It is new, however, to see that the agency is spelling out its defiance in written instructions to its agents. This makes sense given that the agency’s performance metrics are mainly the quantity of removals, not the quality of removals.

When all you care about is numbers, safety is a distant priority. ICE won’t be removing the worst of the worst. It may eventually, but only after it’s booted everyone standing between it and the targets it’s been ordered to remove.

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Comments on “ICE Says The Hell With The President, DHS; Orders Officers To Remove ALL Undocumented Immigrants”

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129 Comments
JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: "Shall"

No, shall is a GREAT wiggle word since people think it means you’re required to do something due to the way their parents/teachers used it – you SHALL clean your room! You SHALL do your homework. But look at the word more closely – shall really only means that the actions will occur SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE. It’s like telling someone “I’ll get to it tomorrow,” only better since you didn’t actually specify WHEN in the future you’ll do it.

The law says:

“The travel ban, extreme vetting, and vastly increased deportations of undocumented immigrants were all sold to us under the theory these methods would eject the worst of the worst from our country and keep those worsts from returning.”

It’s so funny to hear lefties pretending that enforcement of the existing law had to be “sold” to the Merican public.

“As Cato’s David Bier points out, the ICE memo has “rogue agency” written all over it.”

ICE still has an obligation to enforce the lawl, regardless of some perceived (by a lefty), or not, contradiction therewith from an executive order.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

it usually takes a person that sees things in black or white to recognize another black and white person.

I am a very black and white person, but I don’t think even close to the rest of you ignorant masses. Everything that looks grey is just an uneven distribution of a lot more blacks and whites to varying degrees.

Only the truly gray become blind to the black and the white.

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You seem to have the same limited and simplistic thinking as ICE. Concepts such as cost-benefit analysis and allocation of limited resources appear to be foreign to you and them. Not to mention government agents doing exactly what politicians promised they would not do. This is an authoritarian agency flexing it’s muscles against the easy targets, just like the FBI duping simpletons into becoming ‘terrorists’ because finding real terrorists is just too hard.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not to mention government agents doing exactly what
> politicians promised they would not do.

If the politicians want them to stop, then they need to repeal all immigration laws and just throw open border.

But as long as we have these laws, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with law enforcement enforcing them. It’s what they’re actually supposed to be doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

ICE still has an obligation to enforce the lawl, regardless of some perceived (by a lefty), or not, contradiction therewith from an executive order.

There is an interesting undertone to your statement. That undertone is that the law is always good and must always be obeyed.

There is no recognition that some laws are just straight up immoral, wrong, evil, bad, disgusting and dangerous to the safety of society in general.

What laws may fit into these categories are, of course, very much dependent on your specific philosophical and/or religious viewpoint.

As a Christian, I ask myself, what is the consequences of hiding these undocumented immigrants from the government authorities? Is is appropriate to break these specific laws in specific circumstances?

I have these kinds of discussions on a semi-regular basis, particularly, when someone complains about another breaking various rules, regulations an laws that have been put in place. Many of these are of no consequence or have been put in place just to spite large sections of the community.

One has to look at what is in place and why and whether or not one will choose to obey or disobey specific laws. I have met those who take no responsibility for their actions and will automatically just obey a rule or law even when it will cause serious problems for others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The police, FBI, HSA, ICE and even the courts don’t make laws. Period, end of story.

Politicians make laws, you don’t like the law, talk to politicians to have the laws changed.

If there are bad laws, change them. Ignoring them just doesn’t work in our framework, because if you ignore laws that you don’t agree with, what is to keep others from ignoring laws that they don’t agree with?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The police, FBI, HSA, ICE and even the courts don’t make laws. Period, end of story.

The fundamental problem here is that each of these organisations are made up of people who are responsible for their actions, including following the directives of those above. It is considered that there is no excuse for any military person to obey an order that leads to the murder or torture of other combatants or non-combatants.

This is just as applicable to any person who works for any law enforcement agency or any court. One cannot use the justification that one is just following the law or obeying the directives of one superiors when those laws or directives are wrong.

If the politicians pass legislation that requires the mandatory reporting of any and all actions by any specific group (where that group is not doing something immoral/wrong/evil/bad/etc) where the result is that under a change of thought within your government organisations, they can now imprison/kill/torture/enslave/etc members of that group at whim, are you required to fully cooperate with those authorities to cause harm to that group?

When you do not distinguish what is a moral law compared to what is an immoral law (by whatever standards of morality you espouse) then you are are simply abdicating you responsibility as a human being. You are not applying critical thinking to the situations that you come in contact with.

You are saying that you have no problems with becoming a member of any such group and that it is appropriate for the government agencies to do whatever they like to you and your families. You are stating here that when law enforcement and the courts deal with you harshly, you will not fight back in any way other than complain to your local politician, irrespective of your harmlessness and innocence.

If there are bad laws, change them. Ignoring them just doesn’t work in our framework, because if you ignore laws that you don’t agree with, what is to keep others from ignoring laws that they don’t agree with?

Civil disobedience is one method of forcing change. How much influence do you have with your local politician or with your legislature? As is often seen and reported here, the general citizen has no influence, other than in civil disobedience.

It is not about ignoring laws you don’t agree, it is about taking a stand against laws that you don’t agree with and in taking that stand, accepting that there are consequences for your disobedience to those laws and accepting personal responsibility for your choices and actions.

There are many who just ignore various laws they disagree with but will attempt to weasel their way out of the consequences. We see this plenty of times. This is a completely different matter. I may not agree with specific laws, I may consider them useless and irrelevant, but as they have no moral consequence, I just live within them. They are an inconvenience, but who cares about the inconvenience.

So what if the speed limit is set to some figure you think is too low, it is there for the safety of you and others. It might be an inconvenience as far as you are concerned, but there is no moral imperative to disobey this rule or law.

However, if a specific law requires that I bring harm to someone for no other reason than that is the law, then I am obligated to consider whether or not obedience to that law is moral and make a decision as to what I would want to have happen to me, if I was in their circumstances.

Using the cop-out that its the law doesn’t say much about you as a person. If you cannot distinguish what is right and wrong (irrespective of what the law may say), then you are not living up to your responsibilities.

If you have no compassion, mercy, kindness and good-will to others (no matter who they be), then you cannot expect the law to have it towards them or towards yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Civil disobedience doesn’t fly with government employees.

Did the woman county clerk have the right to refuse to issue marriage certificates to gays even though the law told her she had to?

Here you go, a perfect example of what happens when people ignore the law. Should that have allowed to continue to happen?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

When you do not distinguish what is a moral law compared
> to what is an immoral law

There is nothing immoral whatsoever about a nation establishing its borders, defending them, and regulating who can enter.

Every country on the face of the earth does this, including the enlightened liberal ‘utopias’ in Europe. Why is it that the US is the only country in the world that is ‘immoral’ and ‘racist’ for having borders?

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps (officer) safety is the goal

If we assume a general correlation between priority removals and “dangerous” immigrants, then it’s far safer for officers to arrest a large number of non-priority removals (who are assumed to be relatively low danger to anyone, but importantly to the officer) than to arrest even a small number of priority removals (who, by public relations definitions are the dangerous violent criminals). Even better, if they can catch enough non-priority removals, they can fill up their local holding space, and then plead that they just can’t catch any more immigrants of either type because there’s nowhere to put them (until the deportation backlog catches up, which may take months or years). Each of these individually makes the immigration officers safer, and taken together makes them much safer. Thus, (officer) safety is absolutely the goal. 😉

Bill Silverstein (user link) says:

Re: American farms?

There are LEGAL programs that allow agricultural workers to come into the country and perform agricultural work and be paid wages as long as they are provided reasonable wages, housing (or transportation back to their home country at the end of the day). It is called the H2A visa. It also requires that the employer shows that they cannot fill the job with legal residents (or US citizens).

Of course, if you hire people here illegally, you probably want to pay slave wages treat them like slaves.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Sure?

As Cato’s David Bier points out, the ICE memo has "rogue agency" written all over it.

Or (hastily dons tin-foil hat), an agency operating exactly as desired? The "president’s" words on the subject lean more to what’s actually happening than the EO, which is written that way because; "This wording is in the excutive [sic] order for two reasons: to avoid legal challenges and to prevent manpower waste."

Anonymous Coward says:

Enforcing the law against illegals is not a bad thing.

Undocumented Immigrant = Illegal Immigrant

They need to be removed 100% of the time. Do it legally and you will have my support with calling out a bunch of assholes treating you like shit at the border, but I cannot feel sorry for people breaking the law directly like this.

I like it even more when people try to guilt trip you into letting them stay by saying, “think of the children” America is all they know, it is wrong to send them back like it is somehow our fault for their parents subjecting their children to that problem.

Yes, I feel sorry for the children, but the people you need to be getting pissed off at are the parents and yourselves for fomenting the illegal invasion of a country by trying to make it okay for them to come illegally!

Anonymous Coward says:

What is it that "lefties" don't get about "illegal"? Why are they so dead set on getting immigrants into what they claim is an unjust country?

Millions have been legalized already, and it’s plenty. Just cut it down to LEGAL numbers, fine with me and most. But draw the line at ILLEGAL.

Techdirt is saying THE HELL WITH THE LAW.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What is it that "lefties" don't get about "illegal"? Why are they so dead set on getting immigrants into what they claim is an unjust country?

… just pay fair, and you will get worker.

and please don’t bs me with high prices. case on point are vermont apples picked by slave labor villagers brought from jamaica for the season. i am not making this up. are apples cheaper then?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What is it that "lefties" don't get about "illegal"? Why are they so dead set on getting immigrants into what they claim is an unjust country?

there are 30k+ h1b workers in jersey city, nj at any given time. that means there was not a single american person willing to take any of these jobs before them. really?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What is it that "lefties" don't get about "illegal"? Why are they so dead set on getting immigrants into what they claim is an unjust country?

“there are 30k+ h1b workers in jersey city, nj at any given time. that means there was not a single american person willing to take any of these jobs before them. really?”
Duplicitous., at best. H1B1 is legal, Einstein.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What is it that "lefties" don't get about "illegal"? Why are they so dead set on getting immigrants into what they claim is an unjust country?

Lefties in DC use those illegals and undocumented for all the slave labor they can enjoy without having to keep tax records for them.. Duh! / sorry!

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: What is it that "lefties" don't get about "illegal"? Why are they so dead set on getting immigrants into what they claim is an unjust country?

It probably has something to do with not being afraid of
> scary brown people taking the jobs you wouldn’t do anyway.

No one will have to do them soon enough. Robo-food pickers are already being deployed on some farms for testing.

Pretty soon that old clichéd ‘they’re just doing the jobs Americans won’t do’ excuse will be obsolete.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: What is it that "lefties" don't get about "illegal"? Why are they so dead set on getting immigrants into what they claim is an unjust country?

Lefties?

Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986 granted amnesty to approximately 3 million illegal immigrants who entered the United States prior to January 1, 1982.

Reagan’s "Shining House on the Hill" speech was about opening the borders to all.

In 1990 President George H.W. Bush’s "Family Fairness" policy gave deferrals to 1.5 million spouses and children of immigrants given amnesty by Reagan in 1986.

In 2003/2004 it was Bush II’s turn to push for immigration amnesty. Almost half the Republicans in the US Senate were public supporters of AgJobs bill.

The Republican platform committee independently made immigration amnesty part of the Republican platform in 2004. (PDF link to the platform. Refer to the "Supporting Humane and Legal Immigration" section, where they say "We don’t support amnesty" while describing their amnesty.)

Bush II tried again in 2007. ("Republican former President George W. Bush’s effort to create a path to legal status for immigrants in the United States unlawfully failed in 2007")

In the 2008 election it was McCain that wanted immigration amnesty.

In July 2010 it was Sarah Palin’s turn on the Bill O’Reilly show. Her plan was to make all illegal immigrants register. Those that don’t would be found and deported. Those that DO register would be allowed to continue to work in the US.

Rick Perry wrote an op-ed in the newspaper saying that he was open to Amnesty. He’s given speeches supporting an open border. "We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, ‘we don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there.’ And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers." […] "President Fox’s vision for an open border is a vision I embrace, as long as we demonstrate the will to address the obstacles to it."

In 2012 New Gingrich favored an amnesty for illegal immigrants who "may have earned the right to become legal."

In 2013 Ted Cruz fought for legalization (work permits and green cards but not citizenship) for 11 million illegal immigrants.

Oh, those gosh-darned lefties.

Thad (user link) says:

FYI, Arpaio was voted out of office in November, and is currently awaiting a verdict in his criminal contempt-of-court trial, for continuing his anti-immigrant actions after he was ordered to stop by the DoJ.

The new sheriff, Paul Penzone, has also pledged to close Tent City, though last I heard the closure had been delayed. Which is pretty alarming given the heatwave we’re experiencing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hypocrisy at it's finest.

non-sequitur to the extreme.

Yes the government is one giant hypocrisy machine but they are not deporting legal non-citizens or shall we say “documented immigrants” are they?

If my Native American blood is all that is necessary for me to speak to this issue then you are already long pass missing the point. Yes, I am actually part Native American too, enough to live on a reservation and register as well, but I refuse that because I view anyone with “special privileges” because of race as racism.

Bill Silverstein (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hypocrisy at it's finest.

How dare you compare the deportation of people who broke the law and are in this country ILLEGALLY to the systematic MURDER of 6 million people you racist piece of crap!

There is a difference between arresting people who are break a law and returning them to their country and placing them in a gas chamber and murdering them!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Deportation vs. Genocide

From what I understand we’re sending people back to some places in which they would be persecuted, or captured by criminal agencies and made either into slave labor or sexual slaves. Either way, they’ll average less than seven years to live under those conditions.

ICE had already been deporting people to dangerous zones before with limited concern for those they deported, but now they’re including people who were non-criminal here in the states, were brought here as children or are children now, but will be forced to follow their parents.

Is it an not an atrocity if the numbers massacred are not yet in the millions? Is it not an atrocity if we aren’t the ones doing the gassing?

Hint: In Barbarossa, the German death squads would annihilate Jews and other Untermenschen by enlisting captured civilians to do it for them, usually by beating them to death. They’d be paid if they did, and punished for not doing so. Then the Nazis would scoff to themselves at the same peoples to for happily massacring their own. Fun history!

tin-foil-hat says:

Huge numbers of illegal immigrants harm the economy

Illegal immigrants or even foreign contractors with less skin in the game than amfomestic worker, apply downward pressure on wages. I don’t agree with racist, nationalist policies or not prioritizing efforts which is just stupid. However the belief that they’re here doing jobs Americans won’t do is simply not true. There are millions of uneducated, unskilled people in the US and low wage, unskilled jobs to be filled. A glut of unskilled people available to fill those jobs ensures that employers will have no incentive to improve the conditions of these jobs, not even a little. HIb visas provided to skilled workers in just a fraction of the number of unskilled illegal immigrants affects the employment of tech workers noticibly. Their presence in the country absolutely affects the economy. Middle class people are out of touch with the reality of the working poor in my opinion.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Huge numbers of illegal immigrants harm the economy

Really? I know some people that went to the US illegally (and managed to make it legal later) were earning twice or even 3 times what they got for the same type of labor here simply because Americans don’t want to take those less-than-honorable jobs (ie: gardening, babysitting and others). In fact there have been studies that suggest the opposite.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Huge numbers of illegal immigrants harm the economy

Their presence in the country absolutely affects the economy.

 

Yep. But not how you think it does. Overall, higher rates of foreign-born population historically have corresponded to lower unemployment rates.

A U.S. Department of Labor study prepared by the Bush Administration noted that the perception that immigrants take jobs away from American workers is "the most persistent fallacy about immigration in popular thought" because it is based on the mistaken assumption that there is only a fixed number of jobs in the economy.
Source

Anonymous Coward says:

Can Americans “flee” our “war torn streets” (South Chicago) to get sanctuary and entitlements in Mexico? Can we expect Mexico to provide classes in English and free college tuition to our children? Will Mexican citizens share their identities so hard-working undocumented Mexicans can pay their taxes and receive refunds?

No? Then why should we do all those things for them in this country?

And why would anyone complain about ICE doing their job for the first time in 8 years?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Because there’s disagreement about what should be legal.”

So? In the eyes of the law, it should be black and white. The “grey” area is left to the politicians. If the law is unjust or no longer needed, lets get the politicians to change it. Refusing to uphold the law based on personal beliefs is a very dangerous concept.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Refusing to uphold the law based on personal beliefs is a very dangerous concept.

If you are willing to accept the consequences, what then? The civil disobedience that occurred in the fifties and sixties over the race laws. The protection and hiding of those undesirables (jews, gypsies, etc) during world war 2. The underground railway in the US during the slavery period. Yes they can be very dangerous for those standing up for what is right.

If the law is unjust or no longer needed, lets get the politicians to change it.

This statement relies on an idea that politicians will listen to the citizens. How often have you been able to get any politician to change their minds. It generally takes wide spread civil disobedience to get this kind of action. So as long as everyone obeys all laws, what incentive do the politicians have to change unjust laws?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Don’t you think you are going a bit overboard? Comparing voluntary illegal immigration with slavery and the holocaust?

When your first act in going to a new country is breaking the law, your doing it wrong! If they want to come here, do so legally. Why is that too much to ask?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It generally takes wide spread civil disobedience to get
> this kind of action.

So if it’s okay for California to declare itself a ‘sanctuary state’ and refuse to help enforce (and in some cases even hinder the enforcement) of federal immigration law, would it be just as okay for Texas to declare itself a ‘sanctuary state’ and refuse to help enforce (and in some cases even hinder the enforcement) of federal gun laws?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem is, well, reality.

1) There are parts of the country where farms depend on millions of undocumented workers in the country illegally. Which is why Reagan and Bush I passed amnesties, and Bush II, Palin, Cruz and others have supported amnesties.

2) Those in undocumented workers have families. Children. Which means you there are large numbers of now-adults in the country illegally, who didn’t break the law, because they were brought in as children, and have only ever known life in America. And large numbers of children, born in America, whose parents could be deported. "Fair…?"

3) Trump’s policies are making those undocumented workers easy prey for criminals. A rape victim won’t go to police knowing that she’ll be deported. Undocumented workers are afraid to enroll their children in school – even those born in America – which only leads to more problems for America down the road.

Michael Morley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I like this post – it lays out the arguments against enforcement completely and concisely, which is why it clarified for me exactly why am fence-sitting on this issue with considerable misgivings for either side.

I don’t disagree with any of those three points, my misgivings come from what they imply.

1) If enough of the economy depends on so many immigrants, than there should be enough people voting pocketbook to get the laws changed. Then too, if (as is OFTEN argued) the economy depends on the illegal immigrants because they are willing to do hard work for minimum wage or less, then the conclusion is that immigrants ARE in fact driving down the price of labour for the least skilled and least privileged (or alternatively that minimum wage is economically wrongheaded and prevents unskilled CITIZENS from getting work?), AND that the grey area of undocumented status is nearly as exploitative as that of Indian & Sri Lankan workers in the UAE.

2) Granted, and this unfortunate legal gray area that has so many people in fear is because amnesties and non-enforcement was allowed to exist in the first place. How is lack of immigration enforcement NOT encouraging and maintaining an exploitative second class citizenry? Not that your post makes this mistake, but many arguing on this point basically go on to make a sunk costs fallacy argument – the cruelties of changing the status quo mean we have to maintain the cruelties of the status quo indefinitely..

3) Again, undocumented status is described here as a horrifying kafkaesque trap that might as well have been designed by elitists wanting cheap labour and a boost to the economy without needing to pay for government services or worry about political representation.

The deportation argument is rule of law, and the amnesty argument is the human cost, and so the two sides talk past each other because the arguments are at different conceptual levels. My point here is that it has always seemed to me that there are human costs to the lack of the rule of law, and a decline in the rule of law associated with human suffering. The two sides really are two sides of the same coin. Thus: what is the solution?

-The horribly exploitative status quo that nobody likes?
-End of borders and border controls (as Anarchists and capital-L Libertarians call for)?
-Amnesty for some or all of those here now followed by full enforcement of whatever procedures, limits, or quotas that are or might be set?
-Full enforcement now and discouraging future illegal immigration that would recreate the status quo sometime in the future?

Is there an option I’m missing? (And let’s stick with principle – we don’t, at this point, need to be bogged down in how incompetent the handling of any option could be in practice, even with Trump in the White House.) The first option I don’t want, but seems to be the end result of all the calls to not enforce current law. The fourth is legal (though, again, I agree terribly unpleasant) and is, in theory, short term pain for long term gain as far as the exploitative legal gray area goes. The middle two require changing the law, not just criticizing the enforcement of the current law.

So again, am I missing something? Do you see another option to actually solve this problem? For myself I think I’d like to see a grand compromise version of #3, but if sufficient support does not exist to legalize more immigrants (and I see little evidence that there is), why is supporting the existence of a disenfranchised underclass and its endless drip of misery so OBVIOUSLY superior to the (admittedly more dramatic, more sudden, and more visible) misery of deportation?

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So again, am I missing something?

Humanity?

Do you see another option to actually solve this problem?

Well, I dunno. Maybe starting from the premise of your country that all people are created equal and accepting that you’re talking about people and not abstract and awkward results of an unbalanced equation of law? "Rule of law" does not have to mean "inhuman"

but if sufficient support does not exist to legalize more immigrants (and I see little evidence that there is), why is supporting the existence of a disenfranchised underclass and its endless drip of misery so OBVIOUSLY superior to the (admittedly more dramatic, more sudden, and more visible) misery of deportation?

This seems like pretty spurious argument to me. For a start it’s not like the US has a huge welfare state, so I’m not clear how much "supporting" would need to happen beyond what already happens simply with them being there, which they already are. Secondly, from what I’ve read a fairly large amount of these immigrants work so they’re actually contributing to the economy rather than sponging off it.

Also not sure how you get to the binary choice of "supporting the existence of a disenfranchised underclass" vs. "misery of deportation", but the fairly obvious answer to your rather contrived question would seem to be; "It’s ‘obviously’ superior because the people to whom it is happening repeatedly choose the one over the other"

Michael Morley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Opening with a drive-by accusation of inhumanity is uncalled for. First, it’s the kind of casual political dehumanization that is THE problem with partisanship and polarization today. Second, it HAS to be dishonest because you actually engage with my main idea, the balance of suffering, in your post.

But I do appreciate that you did actually engage with the ideas, so moving on to the productive parts…

First, to briefly clarify, I said services, not welfare, and the specific example was policing. If immigrants contribute to the economy (i.e., the tax base directly or not) but don’t need to have their crimes investigated or other basic (non-welfare) government services, then that just supports my statement that the status quo is pretty ideal for morally bankrupt politicians and/or businessmen.

Next: law and the status quo is out of balance, yes, and we can either move people until the law is in force, or move the law until the people are consistent with it (or some combination). So yes, I’m trying to balance abstract law – but since I DON’T want the rule of law to be inhuman, the question is of least harm.

Here are some numbers. These days the US deports ~410k people (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/31/u-s-immigrant-deportations-declined-in-2014-but-remain-near-record-high/). Current estimates of the illegal immigrant population are just over 11 million (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/27/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/). If nothing changes, then in a little under 28 years the US will have done the equivalent of deported all illegal immigrants in the country and be looking to continue deporting, breaking up families, and giving police the opportunity to selectively enforce for the foreseeable future. In short, not only will the equivalent of a maximalist deportation happen under the status quo, it will be, as ably noted in (3) of the original post (and elsewhere), a life of fear and paranoia that this could be the day their family is torn apart.

Thus I have pretty good reasons to suspect that the status quo is WORSE than deportation followed by effective enforcement and deterrence of immigration controls. That is, all the complaints about mass deportation seem to also apply to the status quo.

Next point: “Created Equal” is a fine ideal, and one I agree with. But it’s not the only ideal. By itself, it implies no borders, no citizenship status, as dividing up people like that runs counter to the idea. But Democracy is another nice ideal, and I’m pretty sure “no borders” or “no immigration limits” is not going to pass the Democratic process these days, so that option is likely out. Similarly (though slightly less) politically untenable is any sort of grand compromise involving some amnesty/naturalization, some deportations, and border controls to prevent the horrible status quo from re-occurring.

That leaves #1 (Status Quo) and #4 (Mass Deportation). #1 is achieved by doing nothing, #4 plausibly achievable through executive power, thanks to decades of bipartisan executive power creep. (That’s where the binary choice comes from. You’re correct I wasn’t clear on that, I hope it’s clear now.)

This is why I’m on the fence and have misgivings, because as far as I can tell the status quo is set to cause more suffering for more people than deportation, and deportation seems to be the next most practical option after the status quo. I wrote the initial comment because I AM NOT HAPPY with that conclusion and wanted, as I said before, to see if there was some way out that I wasn’t seeing.

Since I was apparently misunderstood, I’m writing a second long long comment to clarify. Telling me that the policy options should magically conform to all my ideals does not actually give me that policy option. Sadly.

Now for your last paragraph, and best point. The immigrants are choosing the hazards of illegal crossings, risks of deportation, and potential life of paranoia of all things government, and so the market has spoken. This is a good argument, a very good argument, but not sufficient. Oh, I could say it’s insufficient because it utterly discounts the democratic opinion of current citizens and so tacitly suggests the immigrants’ opinion counts for more, but the real reason (at least for me) is my misgivings of how that argument works.

Some people would prefer to be in the US even in a legal quagmire, so since they’re willing to make that trade who are we to stop them. Fine.

Then by the same logic: Some people would prefer to work even at below minimum wage, so who are we to enforce minimum wage laws?

Or any number of other versions – OSHA compliance, anti-harassment laws, and ever so many others. It’s a very libertarian idea, but there’s a reason I don’t call myself a libertarian and it’s because the argument for regulation, ANY regulation is that without boundaries people will find ways to abuse the freedom – without minimum wage, local monopolies on jobs can lead to servitude and no power to demand job safety rules, etc. Similarly, to the topic at hand, that accepting a pool of legally gray labour will enable and encourage people to abuse that labour force.

For the final argument to be TRULY convincing, I’d like a reason to believe that, at least in this case, the moral hazard argument does not apply. The descriptions I have read of gray labour working conditions both hear and abroad do not make me optimistic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The exploitation of people

In the US, exploitation is endemic throughout your entire society. It is considered normal and appropriate for all businesses (from the very small to the vary large) and for all government organisations (from the very small to the very large) to exploit everyone working for them except those at the privileged top.

The entire concept of mandatory tipping removes the expectation of a business to actually pay their workers a fair wage. The entire concept of unpaid interns hinges on getting free work done for the possibility of the intern gaining valuable experience. This one misses that the intern is still providing free work, irrespective of any possible training they may get in the men time.

The basic concept of social justice is not a fundamental part of US culture. Healthcare is one area that this stands out, wages are another area that this stands out.

So, the solution is up to the individuals to make a reasoned and determine choice as to what they will do. This includes making choices in obeying or disobeying specific laws and rules in play and accepting the consequences thereof.

Waiting for any government, business, court, law enforcement body, etc to do the proper, right and moral thing is going to be a long wait.

It is only in recent times that border control for anything other than military reasons or customs control has come to the fore.

When society as a whole changes and looks after and builds up all of the people, then you will see a strong people develop. When it disregards various sections then you see a weak society develop. When you make specific groups of people special and make them a priority over everyone else, you create inherent cracks and flaws in your society that will eventuate in the destruction of that society.

For this to work, we must develop individuals who are willing to accept the responsibility of doing the right thing, of defending the weak and downtrodden, of supporting and caring for those who are needing that.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And large numbers of children, born in America, whose
> parents could be deported. “Fair…?”

No, it’s not fair, but the parents are to blame for that unfairness for causing the situation in the first place.

The government is not ‘breaking up families’ when it enforces immigration law. The parents are breaking up their own families by entering another country illegally and putting their families in peril of break-up if they get caught.

When a guy robs a bank and gets caught, we don’t blame the government for breaking up his family by sending him to prison. He did that himself when he robbed the bank, knowing prison was what awaited him for breaking the law.

And, honestly, these families are only broken up if the parents let it happen. They can take their kids with them when they’re deported. The kids won’t lose their citizenship. When they grow up, if they want to come back to the US, they can.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you don’t like illegal immigrants being deported, then have the law changed.

I don’t understand why people get upset about deportations? The law is the law. If you don’t like the law, don’t ignore it, change the law. Until then, just shut the fuck up.

Does it not occur to you that the way in which you get the law changed is by speaking up about this stuff? How do you get the law changed when you "shut the fuck up"?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Speaking up about it is fine, great, bravo.

Politicians (both Dems. and Republicans) have been ignoring the issue for many years. Neither have had the will to actually do anything about immigration, Dems want more of it but have refused to pass laws. Repubs. say they want less of it (but actually don’t because it provides cheap labor) and both just ignore the laws that are on the books.

That is a horseshit way to run a country.

Tom Z says:

The entire premise of this article is based on deliberate obtuseness.

The president says that the priority will be illegal aliens who have committed severe crimes.
ICE says that if you happen to come across an illegal alien who should legal be removed, then remove them.

Those two statements are not incompatible and to write this alarmist article just shows that the author is writing from a position of severe bias.

Its like going out in a field with a metal detector and saying, “Set your detector to look for gold because that’s your priority, but if you happen to trip over a silver coin, pick it up.” Entirely normal combination of ideas.

Instead, the alarmist author shouts about rogue agencies because he has bought into the twisted interpretations of Obama. Under his weird rules “not a priority” meant agents were not allowed to enforce the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: call a spade a spade

Except of course for all the people who have committed no crime, not even the crime of entering the country illegally.

For instance, people who were brought here as children. They did not choose to come here. They were brought by their parents. Their parents may be guilty of entering illegally, but the children aren’t. And those children might now be adults who have only ever known life in the US.

Or children who are born here (which makes them legal citizens) from parents who were here illegally. If you deport their parents while their children are still under 18, you’ll necessarily be kicking out the child along with them.

And most “undocumented immigrants” came here completely legally on a visa in the first place. They didn’t illegally invade, they just illegally stayed too long.

Daydream says:

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

That’s what I’m reminded of by this post, for some reason.

You know the one, right? Passed as a compromise between the southern states and northern states in America, it enabled southern slave owners to hunt and recapture escaped slaves in northern territories, and required the people of said northern territories to assist them.
A ‘quirk’ of the law was that captured people weren’t allowed to present evidence that they weren’t an escaped slave, and that anyone participating in their capture got a monetary reward. You can guess what happened.

I went for a quick google, apparently the controls on deportation proceedings aren’t that strong.
ICE can just pick someone up off the street if they think they might be in the country illegally or their credentials might be fake or whatnot, it’s hard to get legal representation or prove your ‘innocence’ once you’re in custody…

And, which sounds better? “We detained hundreds of illegal immigrants and deported every one of them.” or “We detained hundreds of people, but it turned out most of them were really citizens so we had to let them go.”?
Considering how little the normal cops in America admit to their mistakes…

Well, I dunno. Does anyone else see this going horribly wrong and hundreds or thousands of innocent people being chucked out of the country?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

This was my first glean of it. They’d assume I’m American because I’m white and talk like a California beach bum. But our hispanic friends don’t have that advantage.

By federal law Americans are not required to carry state-issued identity, but that isn’t going to stop ICE or the CBT from deporting anyone who doesn’t have a card that says they’re American.

And then the officers can easily lose the cards or dismiss them as fake.

tin-foil-hat says:

Huge numbers of illegal immigrants harm the economy

There is no doubt that immigrants contribute but that doesn’t mean they’re presence is benign. For one thing I don’t think local police should deal with immigration issues. Period. They have other priorities. Secondly, I believe the single focus on punishing/deporting immigrants while not creating a disincentive to employers is idiotic. Doing nothing (amnesty is worse than doing nothing) is not an option. I’m not going to say “illegal is Illegal” because it doesn’t address the nuances of everybody’s case. Next time a crew of landscapers comes to your house or you stay in a hotel, if you pay attention you’ll see there are Americans doing those jobs. These are America’s working poor. Employers would have to compete for those workers if there weren’t enough of them but when you have 8 million additional people available for those jobs it affects the economy negatively. Not for the upper and middle classes but the poorest of the poor in the US. Anyone who thinks having 8 million (conservative estimate) illegal immigrants living here has no effect or a positive effect on the economy is in denial.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "Illegal is illegal"

illegal is illegal is a total bullshit argument so long as we keep laws for which everyone is guilty, and then give DAs prosecutory discretion. It’s essentially an engine for officials to imprison folks they hate but not folks they like.

Then there’s the matter that we can indict a ham sandwich, but not a ham sandwich with a badge. And then we have a 90% conviction rate (regardless of the facts of cases) because the police will testify falsely with impunity, because the prosecution doesn’t have to give the defense its discovery. And because public defenders are grossly overworked and under-budgeted.

So our entire justice system is bullshit. You and I are already illegal, alien or otherwise, and it’s only because we don’t have brown skin or speak with a funny accent that we aren’t in jail or exiled with them.

Anonymous Coward says:

So do we just ignore the laws on the books? Don’t enforce them? If govt. agencies take this stand, why would a farmer, who hires illegal aliens bother to follow employment laws? Housing laws, minimum wage laws?

Slavery took a moral toll on both the slave and the slave owner. Illegal immigration does the same thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Slavery took a moral toll on both the slave and the slave owner. Illegal immigration does the same thing.

Not illegal immigration but exploitation takes the toll. Those who have low moral fortitude will always find a way to exploit others irrespective of whether or not there is any illegal immigration

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If you are here working illegally, your employer knows that and uses that to their advantage, because they know those people won’t go to the authorities.

Trucking companies that deliver from the shipyards to the warehouses, that has been in the news recently. Migrant workers/slaughterhouse workers that won’t report unsafe conditions. Rape victims that wont’ go to the police for fear of being deported.

Over and over again, it is a bad deal.

That doesn’t happen to people who are here legally. Exploitation will happen of course, but at least there are some protections.

someguy says:

What the holy fu** does this story have to do with “tech” anyway? I come to Techdirt for news about technology. Not to hear a bunch of liberal BS about some memo some nobody wrote in February saying “Hey ya’ll, our 8-year break’s over. We have to enforce the law again. Get your asses back to work.” Jesus has every employee who writes for a living lost their mind? Your job isn’t to write about Trump. It’s to write about tech. Get back to doing that or fu*& right off, mate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Tech is not in a vacuum, it depends on what society as a whole is doing. Those who right here are fully entitled to write about what they want, irrespective of what any of us might expect.

I don’t read all that many articles on this site because they have no interest to me. I read those that interest me. When it comes time that they write nothing that interests me, I’ll stop coming here. No skin off their noses and no skin off my nose.

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