Group Of Unionized Immigration Guards Sues Boss For Barring Deportation Of Youngsters.

DALLAS —A group of 10 federal immigration border guards is suing their boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, for barring them from arresting and deporting undocumented people brought to the U.S. as youngsters by their parents.

Led by Chris Crane, president of the American Federation of Government Employees sector that represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the group argues that “prosecutorial discretion” in enforcing immigration laws is illegal.

They got a partial win from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Dallas on April 23. He ruled they have a legitimate issue and set a hearing on the full case for May 6. But he turned down their request for an immediate court order against Napolitano.

O’Connor said Napolitano lacks discretion to order the ICE agents to ignore the youngsters at the initial stage, their arrest. But she may have it after that, the judge added, because the ICE agents don’t challenge her later discretion in their suit.

The issue of letting undocumented people – including youngsters – settle in the U.S. is on the front burner in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform. Crane disclosed the suit in April 21 testimony against reform. Seven of the 10 ICE agents in the suit are from Texas, but their lawyer is Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, creator of Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant anti-Hispanic law, SB1070.

“Immigration agents filed a lawsuit against DHS and ICE because both refused to enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress,” Crane told senators then. “Agents cannot arrest individuals for entering the United States illegally or overstaying visas.”

Left unsaid in their suit is that Napolitano is following a summer 2012 directive from her boss, Democratic President Barack Obama. He told DHS to use “prosecutorial discretion” and avoid arresting the youngsters. Instead, he said ICE should concentrate on arresting and deporting undocumented people with felony records.

The ICE guards, whose agency is known for its immigration raids during union organizing campaigns among undocumented workers, also contend that if they resume arresting and deporting the youngsters, they’ll suffer retribution from the department.

“Agents are prohibited from enforcing laws regarding fraudulent documents and identity theft. Agents are not permitted to arrest public charges. Agents are forced to apply the Obama DREAM Act not to children in schools but to adult inmates in jails,” Crane charged in his Senate testimony. His suit does not mention that charge.

That would release criminals “who have committed felonies, who have assaulted officers and who prey on children,” Crane added. “At an alarming rate, ICE deportation numbers have plummeted since 2008, evidence that interior enforcement has in large part been shut down — contrary to reports by presidential appointees at ICE and DHS.”
Deportations, however, reached as high as 1,400 daily, immigrant advocates respond.

The guards claimed Napolitano “commands ICE officers to violate federal law and to violate their oaths to uphold and support federal law. As a result,” the ICE guards “expressed their desire not to follow the directive,” from their boss, her. “Napolitano’s authority…to enforce the immigration laws cannot be construed to authorize her to order her employees to violate the requirements of federal law.”

-PAI