Amid what New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a coterie of her fellow Democrats describe as “a racial reckoning in our country,” federal officials are being told not to make deporting illegal immigrant gang members a priority.
In February, temporary guidance issued for Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel called for reduced deportations, with a few exceptions. One category was “public safety,” which said illegal immigrants could be considered a priority for deportation if they committed an aggravated felony or were members of a gang.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and ICE acting Director Tae Johnson, Ocasio-Cortez and 34 co-signers claim the U.S. legal system is so riddled with discrimination that there is no way criminal illegal immigrants will get a fair shake.
Recently, we led 34 colleagues in calling on ICE to end the carceral approach to immigration.
We need humane and just immigration policies that aim to end mass incarceration, criminalization and deportation of immigrants. pic.twitter.com/EInq4zMNA7
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) May 17, 2021
The ICE rule targeting gang members “invites racial profiling by presuming that an immigrant is a public safety enforcement and removal priority,” the Democrats’ letter said.
The letter said ICE has no business deciding whether participation in a gang was connected with an illegal immigrant’s criminal activity.
The rationale is based on race.
“It is well documented that law enforcement’s practices of labelling people as ‘gang-involved’ is often faulty, based on arbitrary and racist factors, and not subject to due process,” the letter said.
It said law enforcement cannot be trusted on issues of race.
“Giving ICE the discretion to determine what qualifies as ‘gang activity’ doubles down on an arbitrary and discriminatory framework used by law enforcement,” the letter said.
“We are in a moment of racial reckoning in this country, with communities across the country calling for an end to mass incarceration and racist policing. It is time to end the carceral approach to immigration, which relies on these same flawed systems,” the Democrats wrote.
AOC, dozens of House Dems cite ‘racial reckoning’ to oppose targeting gang members for deportation https://t.co/zxlgikksQ4 #FoxNews. YES OF COURSE IT IS RACIALLY BASED TO DEPORT FELONS WHO ARE IN THE US ILLEGALLY….go with them perhaps?
— Robert Church (@rchurch1) May 18, 2021
The notion that anyone who committed an aggravated felony should be deported also raised their hackles.
“The definition of ‘aggravated felonies’ is itself flawed — a relic of the racist War on Drugs — and should not guide the agency’s enforcement priorities,” the Democrats said in the letter, adding that charging people with aggravated felonies is a tactic “designed to ensure that people have as few rights as possible to fight detention and deportation.”
They said the guidance document’s call to deport those who arrived after Nov. 1, 2020, “does not adequately protect the liberty interests of asylum seekers” and opposes the “liberty interests of recently arrived immigrants seeking humanitarian relief and further criminalizes and dehumanizes immigrants by relying on the discriminatory criminal legal system.”
The letter was signed by multiple left-wing lawmakers, including several members of the so-called squad of progressive Democrats: Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri.
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