Draft alien-detention rules could run afoul of the law, senators say

By Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times

The Obama administration could be breaking the law if it follows through on guidance that would mean the government detains fewer illegal immigrants, two top Republican senators said in a warning letter to the Department of Homeland Security this week.

In recent memos, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which controls interior enforcement and detention of illegal immigrants, has proposed new rules for what cases agents should pursue and which deportation cases should be dropped. Those policies could violate federal laws requiring that some illegal immigrants be detained, the lawmakers charged.

“These policy memoranda raise serious questions about whether the department is actually complying with existing immigration laws governing the detention and removal of aliens,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the ranking member on the Judiciary immigration, refugees and border security subcommittee, and Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the chamber, said in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

A spokesman for Ms. Napolitano said the department will respond directly to the senators, but that ICE has stepped up its enforcement overall in the past 19 months.

“ICE’s record-breaking enforcement statistics – removing more aliens in 2009 than in any prior year in the agency’s history and already surpassing records for criminal-alien removals in 2010 – demonstrate that we are doing more than ever before to enforce United States immigration laws,” said spokesman Matt Chandler.

One draft memo and another policy memo lay out plans by ICE to be more selective in which cases it will pursue.

The draft memo proposes that ICE agents generally not pick up illegal immigrants unless local police have charged them with serious crimes.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/2/draft-alien-detention-rules-could-run-afoul-of-the/

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