Public Advocacy, Victims, and Skewed Moral Compasses

By Dan Cadman on March 24, 2014

The House of Representatives has taken up a bill, the Immigration Compliance Enforcement Act, that would, among other things, once again require de-funding of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's alien ombudsman position.

I say "again" because the position, occupied by Andrew Lorenzen Strait, a crony of former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Napolitano who was hand-picked for the job, was already de-funded once by a measure that took effect a year ago. The administration's typically cheeky response was to keep employing the man and simply rename the position — deputy assistant director of custody programs and community outreach.

This in turn led an outraged member of Congress, Diane Black of Tennessee, to accuse the administration of hoodwinking Congress and to put together the latest de-funding effort.

Of course, the House move has led many alien advocacy organizations to react in dismay. Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum lamented, "Rather than signaling a desire to move forward, it entertains an effort to make our immigrant detention system more dysfunctional by cutting critical positions."

I don't know how anyone can refer to the position as "critical" and I suspect that in Noorani's eyes any immigration detention system whatever is a sign of dysfunction. Apparently, so do members of the administration, given the position taken by Napolitano's replacement, Jeh Johnson, when he recently told Congress that the administration is inclined to see the legal mandate to keep 34,000 detention beds simply as "beds available" not necessarily beds filled.

This is a curious position, akin to saying that speed limits are simply suggestions, not requirements. It's also an egregious waste of taxpayer money not to fill them, since they have to be paid for, full or empty. But it, and the ombudsman position itself, are part and parcel of the absurd ongoing narrative of illegal aliens as victims — of an unfair society and jack-booted government. The narrative has been fueled not just by advocacy groups, but the administration itself with its willingness to tolerate any and all flaunting of our immigration laws.

Witness, for instance, previously deported aliens recently gathering in large demonstrations at border checkpoints and then abusing our system by claiming asylum en masse. The administration's response to this, and the assertion that deportation "tears families apart", is apparently going to be to order immigration agents to look the other way and ignore previously deported aliens who illegally reenter the United States even though many of those aliens were deported in the first place because they were convicted of a criminal offense and about a quarter of all aliens arrested by both border and interior agents have previously been deported.

But who attends to the American citizens and lawful residents who are victimized by illegal alien criminals? Certainly not Andrew Lorenzen Strait, who was never an advocate for the public at large; his "public advocate" title sounds better than the more accurate "illegal alien advocate in the midst of a large agency supposedly dedicated to enforcing immigration laws".

Sadly, the answer to the question "Who attends to American citizens and lawful residents who are victimized by illegal alien criminals?" appears to be "No one". The Center for Immigration Studies has documented, over a considerable period of time, any number of individuals killed, maimed, or otherwise harmed by illegal aliens, and the government's callousness and indifference to them and their surviving families.

As if we did not have enough such examples, now comes another. This one is so outrageous that the government appears to be willing to violate federal freedom of information and privacy laws in order to frustrate the attempts of the citizen victim to explore the legal avenues available. Here is a summary of the case prepared by Syracuse University's TRAC Freedom of Information Project:

Niche Knight was struck by a vehicle driven by Alfredo DeJesus Flores, an undocumented worker, which resulted in the amputation of both of Knight's legs. Knight filed a civil suit against Flores, who was temporarily incarcerated in the county jail and then removed to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In order to contact Flores for purposes of the civil suit, Knight asked ICE to provide his alien number and current address. ICE denied the request under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). Knight appealed the agency's decision, but the agency upheld its denial, indicating that it would not disclose information about Flores without his consent. Knight then filed suit.

News reports and other online sources reveal that DeJesus Flores was charged with driving under the influence when he struck Ms. Knight.

The exemption cited by ICE is shockingly inappropriate. The federal Privacy Act is very clear: The only individuals who have privacy rights under the law are United States citizens and lawful permanent resident aliens. (See 5 U.S.C. 552a(a)(2).)

So in its zeal to protect the nonexistent privacy interests of an illegal alien criminal who maimed a United States citizen — as the result of just another one of the "minor" traffic offenses alien advocacy groups are constantly going on about — a federal agency stymies the victim and forces her to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain information that its "public" advocate should have immediately made available, given the facts of the case.

The tale of immigration enforcement under this administration is one of skewed moral compasses and misplaced narratives. The real victims of the story are American citizens and lawful resident aliens, collectively and individually.