The end of discretion in ICE enforcement

The American Immigration Council comments on how the Trump administration has toughened ICE removal of unauthorized persons in two ways. One is to expand the scope to include all persons:

“the Trump administration expanded “enforcement priorities” so broadly as to render the term meaningless. As U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated in a year-end report, ICE no longer exempts groups of removable [noncitizens] from enforcement. In other words, all undocumented immigrants have become targets—even if they have lived in the United States for many years, have U.S.-born children, and have never had a run-in with law enforcement.

The second way is to tighten discretion:  On February 20, 2017 “Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum implementing A Trump executive order severely curtailed the ability of immigration-enforcement personnel to assess an individual’s equities when making case decisions. In the words of the memo: “prosecutorial discretion shall not be exercised in a manner that exempts or excludes a specified class or category of [noncitizens] from enforcement of the immigration laws.” Put differently, all DHS personnel “shall faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States against all removable [individuals].”

The Council notes, “One of the crucial mechanisms in the enforcement of U.S. immigration law and criminal law is the exercise of discretion—and not just prosecutorial discretion. At the broadest level, discretion refers to the decision by a law-enforcement officer, prosecutor, or some other government official to pursue (or not pursue) the enforcement of certain laws against a person, or group of people, who may have violated those laws.

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