ICE Appeals Process Shows Agency's Non-Enforcement Is Not About 'Limited Resources'

The 'No Illegal Alien Left Behind' regime may leave you feeling like Al Pacino in 'The Godfather'

By Andrew R. Arthur on March 10, 2021

Lost amidst the disaster unfolding at the border is news that senior Biden ICE officials have created a new appeals process, allowing removable aliens to challenge ICE arrests, detentions, and removals. This is a second layer of review implementing recent ICE guidance eviscerating interior enforcement. The appeals process proves that this guidance has nothing to do with "limited resources" (as it claims), because ICE is flagrantly wasting those resources so as not to deport removable aliens.

I analyzed the latest ICE enforcement guidance (the "Tae Johnson memo") in a February 23 post, explaining therein: "It is gussied up in all sorts of reasonable-sounding language, but is really just a directive to officers to ignore most of their enforcement responsibilities, and to waste ICE resources it claims to be conserving."

In fact, "limited resources" is the (main) excuse that the Tae Johnson memo uses to explain why ICE under Biden is shutting down almost all immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States — the phrase appears in that memo a whopping six times. The new appeals panel further proves that this excuse is just a lie, adding their insult to your injury.

As BuzzFeedNews explains, the "ICE Case Review Process" allows aliens and their advocates to seek a second-level of review of arrests, detentions, and pending deportations, this time at the headquarters level. This process can include termination of removal proceedings (even for removable aliens) and supplements a first-tier review of those enforcement decisions at the field level (overseen by a regional official).

In case you fail to grasp the implications of this, let me bottom-line it for you: Aliens who Congress says should be removed will have not one, but two chances to show that they are not "priorities" for enforcement under the arbitrary and ridiculous (and possibly unlawful) guidelines that Biden's ICE minions have foisted on the agency's career officers and agents. That means that those aliens' cases will either be slowed to a halt (allowing them to remain here indefinitely), or simply dismissed (ditto).

It should be noted that this ICE case review process will be led "by a senior reviewing officer based in Washington, DC". Stop right there. ICE literally has enough money to pay a high-ranking official (and likely many, many others, plus local and regional officials) to decide which aliens not to deport, at the same time it contends it lacks the money to actually deport removable aliens.

They should really call this the "No Illegal Alien Left Behind" regime.

I wish that I could say that this is the worst of it, but it's not. My editor hates block quotes, but this one really stands out:

Greg Chen, governmental relations director at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said there has also been an informal process for attorneys or lawmakers who understand whom to go to at the Department of Homeland Security for additional help or review of a case.

"The fact that they are formalizing it adds a level of transparency to enable people who don't understand the operations of DHS to understand that they can seek review at a higher level," he said. "It's that kind of transparency that will help people who are unrepresented or do not have extensive contacts within the agency. [Emphasis added.]

That quote is likely intended by the author (Hamed Aleaziz, who seems pretty connected into the Biden immigration team) to make the "ICE Case Review Process" sound like some sort of "good government" program.

What it really reveals (to me, at least), however, is that well-connected private immigration attorneys and lawmakers have been using their influence up to this point to get special treatment from the Biden administration to prevent the deportation of removable aliens.

It's like Richie Rich's father going to the precinct to get his son out of custody after Richie was caught doing donuts on Main St. in his sporty car.

Doubtless recognizing the unseemly nature of this "informal process", and never letting a crisis of their own making go to waste, ICE under Biden has graciously opened those reviews to those who cannot afford white-shoe lawyers or don't have an "in" with their representative (or whose representative does not have an "in" with the new DHS).

It also reveals (again, to me at least) that those private immigration attorneys have an unconscionable amount of sway in how the immigration laws are (not) enforced against their clients. Not Congress (which is supposed to make the immigration laws) and not you the taxpayer (who is paying almost $8 billion for ICE enforcement that the Biden administration is going out of its way not to perform). Them.

This is not corruption, per se (I have seen too much real corruption in Washington to throw the word around blithely). But it shows you who the immigration grandees at DHS are really working for.

Then, there is this quote:

The review process, [John Amaya, a former ICE official under the Obama administration] said, will put the onus on ICE leaders across the country to make sure their officers are up to speed on the new policies.

"It is going to keep people on their toes and keep them busy," he said.

I do not know John Amaya, and I trust that he was being earnest as he made this statement. Aleaziz's article is chockful of such quotes that are humorous in a sad and depressing way, divulging much more than the sources likely intend. I am not even sure that the author is in on his own dark and twisted joke.

But, put differently, the elaborate non-enforcement process described "is going to keep career ICE employees on their toes to make sure they are toeing the party line, and keep them busy wasting taxpayer money."

Thus far, at least, no one has called out any of the architects of this dismantling of ICE enforcement and waste of taxpayer money. Not DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, not Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson (he of the eponymous memo), not the president. Will it last?

Only until some reporter who smells national air time gets their hands on a story of a victim who only became a victim because the "ICE Case Review Process" allowed a would-be murderer, rapist, or child sex-offender to go free. Even then, a complacent and pliable pro-Biden editor will likely axe the story.

Here's the inescapable fact, though: The Biden administration is wasting too much of its $8 billion ICE budget deciding which aliens not to deport, based on a risible contention that ICE's resources are "limited". That is a lie. It is not deporting most aliens because it doesn't want to deport most aliens, plain and simple.

I am reminded of a quote from the end of the 1972 Oscar Award-winning movie, The Godfather. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is confronting his weasely brother-in-law Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo), who set up the murder of Michael's brother Sonny (James Caan). Michael calmly states: "[D]on't tell me you're innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and makes me very angry."

When you hear Acting Director Johnson blame ICE's "limited resources" six times in his February 18 guidelines memo as cover for the agency's need to "prioritize" removable aliens for arrest, detention, and removal, and then you see how the Biden administration is wasting those resources to not enforce the immigration laws, you too might feel like Michael Corleone having a sit-down with Carlo Rizzi.