Will New Aide at ICE Help or Hinder Immigration Laws?

By Dan Cadman on August 6, 2015

Three months ago, I blogged about the appointment of a new principal legal officer at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): an attorney from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who had gotten involved in a cover-up of sexual harassment and scandal at EPA, but who apparently still had enough "mentors" in the administration that the decision was made to launder her to another organization in lieu of discipline or pushing her out of government — even though she possessed no experience whatsoever in the practice of immigration law. I noted that this dearth of experience extended to the new head of ICE herself, Sarah Saldana.

Well, it seems the White House also was concerned, although clearly their concerns took a different direction than mine. In mid-July, the media reported that another attorney has now been hired as an aide to Saldana, one with plenty of immigration experience. She is Mary Elizabeth Cedillo-Pereira, a "Dallas immigration lawyer known for vigorous defense of immigrants [who is] well-known in the immigration bar for championing initiatives aimed at young immigrants who call themselves 'dreamers'." (To get a sense of Cedillo-Pereira's views, see this op-ed for the Dallas Morning News.)

Under any other presidential administration, appointing an advocate for illegal immigrants into a senior adviser's position at an enforcement agency might seem like a curious choice. But not this one; clearly the intent is to put the foxes in charge of the hen house. According to the Dallas newspaper, one justification for the appointment is that "Saldana has been criticized by activists for not being compassionate enough in her agency's dealings with unauthorized immigrants who have U.S. citizen children." I find that particularly amusing; the ICE director has proven herself so thoroughly domesticated that when she made a verbal "misstep" in front of a congressional subcommittee by actually admitting the agency needed legislative help in sustaining its critical use of detainers to hold criminal aliens, she was forced to withdraw the statement with a "clarification" less than 24 hours later.

Of course we know what the result of state and local governments' refusal to honor ICE detainers is: murder and mayhem.

But meanwhile, as to Ms. Cedillo-Pereira's exact duties? I just checked the official ICE website a few minutes ago and she is not to be found anywhere on the "Who We Are" leadership board of the agency.

One assumes her official duties will be as whisperer-in-chief and go-between for Saldana with the White House's immigration wizard behind the scenes, Cecilia Munoz, formerly of the National Council of La Raza.