ICE Re-brands ‘Illegal Aliens’ to ‘Victims of Human Trafficking!’

There is a famous question that asks, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there, does it make a sound?” I would suggest a slightly different question, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there, does it matter if it makes a sound?”

If you wonder why I would ask this- the reason is simple- there is a law enforcement equivalent of that question, “If a law is violated and there is no one enforcing the law violated, does it matter that the law was violated?”

I am providing you with a press release issued by the American Federation of Government Employees- a union that represents the employees of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

This press release was issued yesterday, June 23, 2011 and addressed the grave concerns and frustrations of the employees of ICE who have been, in essence, told to utilize “prosecutorial discretion” to avoid taking a wide variety of illegal aliens into custody. It is a de facto amnesty without Congress having enacted any laws to create an amnesty program!

The language of the instructions provided to the employees is so open-ended that from an employee’s perspective the message is clear- you are likely to have no problems if you fail to take an illegal alien into custody but could be in for a world career terminating problems if you fail to exercise appropriate discretion!

The press release also includes links to the memo that was issued by the Director of ICE, John Morton.

Here is that link:

Consider what is contained in the memo:

Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with the Priorities of the Agency for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens

Factors to Consider When Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion

When weighing whether an exercise of prosecutorial discretion may be warranted for a given alien, ICE officers, agents,and attorneys should consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

  • the agency’s civil immigration enforcement priorities;
  • the person’s length ofpresence in the United States, with particular consideration given to presence while in lawful status;
  • the circumstances ofthe 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 ofhigher 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 immigration history, including any prior removal, outstanding order of removal, prior denial of status, or evidence of fraud;
  • whether the person poses a national security or public safety concern;
  • the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;
  • the person’s ties to the home country and condition~in the country;
  • the person’s age, with particular consideration given to minors and the elderly;
  • whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent;
  • whether the person is the primary caretaker of a person with a mental or physical disability, minor, or seriously ill relative;
  • whether the person or the person’s spouse is pregnant or nursing;
  • whether the person or the person’s spouse suffers from severe mental or physical illness;
  • whether the person’s nationality renders removal unlikely;
  • Whether the person is likely to be granted temporary or permanent status or other relief from removal, including as a relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • whether the person is likely to be granted temporary or permanent status or other relief from removal, including as an asylum seeker, or a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or other crime; and
  • whether the person is currently cooperating or has cooperated with federal, state or local law enforcement authorities, such as ICE, the U.S Attorneys or Department of Justice, the Department ofLabor, or National Labor Relations Board, among others.

    This list is not exhaustive and no one factor is determinative. ICE officers, agents, and attorneys should always consider prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis.

    The decisions should be based on the totality of the circumstances, with the goal of conforming to ICE’s enforcement priorities.

    Recently I wrote a commentary on how ICE has come to use the term “Victim” to describe illegal aliens in a deceptive manner. Victims of Human Trafficking, for example are often simply aliens who paid an alien smuggler to enable to circumvent the inspections process because they know that they are in one or more categories of aliens who are statutorily ineligible to enter the United States. To put it succinctly, an alien who pays a smuggler to facilitate his (her) entry into our country in violation of law is not a “Victim of Human Trafficking” but is, in fact, a co-conspirator!

    The alien who pays a smuggler to enable him to enter our country surreptitiously is certainly committing a violation of law- yet in this insane world, the federal government that is charged with securing our nation’s borders from unlawful entry of aliens is eager to re-brand these illegal aliens “Victims of Human Trafficking!”

    You should note, by the way, that “Victims of Human Trafficking” are now eligible to benefit from prosecutorial discretion!

    Here is a link to that commentary as it appears on my website. I would urge you to take the time to read that commentary:

    In reviewing all of the many reasons why an alien should not be taken into custody and or his/her removal (deportation) proceedings terminated, it would certainly appear that the vast majority of illegal aliens could easily qualify for “prosecutorial discretion!”

    Please also note the statement at the very beginning of the list of grounds for prosecutorial discretion: When weighing whether an exercise ofprosecutorial discretion may be warranted for a given alien, ICE officers, agents,and attorneys should consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

    The following sentence is posted right after the (partial) list of categories of aliens who should be granted prosecutorial discretion:

    This list is not exhaustive and no one factor is.determinative. ICE officers, agents, and attorneys should always consider prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis.

    In other words, as extensive and seemingly nearly all-inclusive as that list is, there may be still more reasons to walk away from an illegal alien encountered in the United States!

    The language is so vague and so absurd that if I was an ICE agent, I would be extremely reluctant to even think about arresting an illegal alien!

    Please consider what the AFGE president had to say.

    Here is another point worth giving some really serious thought to.

    Today the trend is to vilify unions- especially when they represent civil servants. Stop and give some thought to a fundamental issue that few folks are willing to consider- union officials are able to go public with their concerns about the sort of issues that have been brought to light by the AFGE. I can assure you that any ICE employee who is not a high-ranking union official would face extreme disciplinary action for stepping forward and alerting the citizens of our nation about the madness that now passes for the official policy of the federal government in enforcing the immigration laws of our nation.

    It is understandable why many politicians are going to war with unions- they are concerned that union officials can go public to disclose nonfeasance, misfeasance and malfeasance. When people blame unions for doing too good a job of looking out for the well being of the employees that they represent, you need to talk to the politicians who enter into agreements with the union. The bottom line is that unions not only serve the best interests of the employees they represent, but they also serve the best interests of all of us when they do as the AFGE did in going public with the outrageous policies that now pass for “business as usual” at ICE!

    The press release issued by the AFGE is of incredible importance to all Americans and not just the employees of ICE!

    This newly implemented policy makes it clear that the states must find a way of enforcing immigration laws whenever and wherever they can!

    Some time ago I wrote that if the past several administrations had the chutzpah, they would seek to declare any human born on the planet earth to be a citizen of the United States! They would convert Immigration and Customs Enforcement into the “Men in Black” (MIB) as depicted in those two humorous science fiction movies- instructing the agents to only seek to arrest beings who arrived in flying saucers. Of course, if that did happen, I suspect the ACLU would then sue the government for “species profiling!”

    This memo all but changes the job title of the ICE agents to the “MIB” however, you should note that whenever and wherever possible, ICE prefers to talk about their agents who are now often assigned to HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) eliminating the term “Immigration” from the equation! Can the “MIB” designation be far behind?

    A final point- My colleagues and I at the former INS always wanted to use our authorities as INS special agents to prioritize criminal aliens and alien engaged in activities that presented the greatest threats to our nation. In meeting with Senator Alphonse D’Amato in the early 1980’s when we convinced him to create the new law that called for a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment for aliens who were deported subsequent to being convicted of committing felonies and unlawfully re-entered the United States we suggested that the focus of the INS should be criminal aliens.

    In fact, the law provides for aliens who suffer particularly significant hardships- such as suffering from life threatening illnesses and for other reasonable causes, those aliens might have their cases placed in “Deferred Action.” This is entirely appropriate when the individual cases could be carefully reviewed in a case by case situation. Generally the numbers of such cases was extremely small and it made sense.

    While it makes sense to prioritize criminal aliens over aliens without known criminal involvements, it is still important that when illegal aliens who have no known criminal histories are encountered pursuant to other investigative efforts that those aliens be taken into custody and their removal from the United States is sought to create a deterrence. This helps to dissuade aspiring illegal aliens from running our nation’s borders. The idea is that if you are in the United States in violation of law, at any moment you may be encountered by law enforcement and be sent home. This is sensible.

    To create a virtual amnesty for unknown tens of millions of illegal aliens by providing them with all sorts of ways that they can seek to remain in the United States encourages still more illegal aliens to run our nation’s borders in the hope that if they get really lucky the administration and members of Congress will ultimately reward their violations of our laws and our borders by being placed on a “pathway to United States Citizenship.”

    If that does not work out, at least they now know that where the federal government is concerned, they have absolutely nothing to fear!

    As many more illegal aliens seek to run our borders the likelihood that criminals and terrorists among them will succeed in entering our country.

    By “giving away the store” as the officially mandated ICE policy does, an illegal alien would be far less likely to want to provide information to law enforcement or act as an informant, in exchange for the authority to remain in the United States. Why would they want to put themselves at risk when it is clear that our government couldn’t care less that they are illegally present in the United States?

    When I worked for the INS I had reached the point where I used to say that the INS was an agency in a state of free-fall and bottom was elusive. As things got wackier, I changed my statement to say that bottom was no longer elusive- it was illusory- there was no bottom!

    I cannot even begin to comprehend the situation that the ICE agents are confronting each day when they go on duty today!

    A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

    If our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

    We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.

    My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.

    The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.

    If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same. We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

    The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there. The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!

    The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians. I implore you to get involved!

    I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world. However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

    If our government’s failures to secure our nation’s borders and effectively enforce our immigration laws concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation!

    All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are! We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance. This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue! You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem! Democracy is not a spectator sport! Lead, follow or get out of the way!

    Additionally- this summer, on Friday afternoons from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time, I will be filling in for Tom Garcia as the host on The USA Talk Radio Network’s excellent radio show, “The American Hour.”

    I hope you will be joining my cohost, Paula Lauzon Ostman and me, on Fridays this summer!

    Here is the link for this program:

    AFGE National Council 118-ICE: Proud to Make America Work

  • Michael Cutler
    Michael Cutler, a former Senior INS Investigator, an expert witness in more than a dozen Congressional Hearings is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and an advisor to the '911 Families for a Secure America.' He writes about the nexus between immigration and national security.