Last week, ICE announced reforms to its controversial Secure Communities program. Civil rights advocates denounced these changes as window dressing, and the Guardian broke the news about S-Comm's importance to the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) initiative,  which appears to be using S-Comm on undocumented folks to secure support for a fingerprint dragnet to cover a much broader segment of the population than undocumented immigrants. But now, even before folks have had a chance to fully process the potential civil liberties impacts of the FBI’s NGI’s initiative, comes word that Mandeep, a DREAM Act honors pre-med student at UC Davis, who was once voted “most likely to save the world” by her peers at Los Altos High in Mountain View, could be deported to India on Wednesday.
Mandeep is pursuing a degree in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior at UC Davis. But she is undocumented, and thanks to Congress’ failure to pass the DREAM Act last year, she now faces deportation to a country she barely knows. Immigrant rights advocates note that it was only a month ago that President Obama spoke about the importance of providing a path to citizenship for students like Mandeep.
“We should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents,” Obama said. “We should stop denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military.”
They note that Obama has authority to grant administrative relief, which would make qualified DREAM Act youth safe from deportation, but that he has said he can't use his executive authority in that way. So they've been sounding the alarm about Mandeep’s plight by faxing government officials about her situation.
But weren’t ICE’s newly announced S-Comm reforms supposed to provide relief for students like Mandeep?
Immigrant rights advocates say they are concerned that the reforms may not have much real impact on Mandeep because they rely on advocates and attorneys to get attention on individual cases. They note that Mandeep and her mother turned themselves into ICE this morning because they are scheduled to be deported tonight at 1am. And that ICE released them. But it is not clear what will happen next….
Meanwhile, ICE today announced the results of a seven-day targeted "Cross Check" enforcement operation that led to the arrest of more than "2,400 convicted criminal aliens and immigration fugitives" in May, as part of its promise to focus S-Comm resources on undocumented residents who have also broken criminal laws.
“The results of this operation underscore ICE's ongoing focus on arresting those convicted criminal aliens who prey upon our communities, and tracking down fugitives who game our nation's immigration system,” ICE Director John Morton said. “This targeted enforcement operation is a direct result of excellent teamwork among law enforcement agencies who share a commitment to protect public safety.”
ICE notes that everyone taken into custody as part of this latest sweep had prior convictions for crimes such as armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, aggravated assault, theft, forgery and DUI. ICE also noted that 22 percent of the individuals were immigration fugitives-convicted criminal aliens with outstanding orders of deportation who failed to leave the country.
ICE says it conducted its first successful Cross Check operation in December 2009, and has since conducted similar operations in 37 states, but that this seven-day operation, was the largest of its kind, and involved the collaboration of more than 500 ICE agents and officers, and coordination with the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and ICE’s state and local law enforcement partners throughout the United States.
Arrestees included a 32-year-old man residing in Amesbury, Mass., from the Dominican Republic, who is a registered sex offender convicted of assault, battery on a household member, indecent assault, battery on a child, and leaving the scene/person injured; a 51-year-old man residing in Denver, Colo. from Libya convicted of first degree sexual assault against a child and assault domestic violence; a 38-year-old man residing in Orlando, Fla. from the Philippines convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting officer with violence, reckless driving and refusal to submit to blood/urine test; andaA 37-year-old residing in North Hills, Calif. from Mexico convicted of aggravated felony sex crime and rape of an unconscious victim. He was also identified as re-entering the United States after deportation. He will be removed following prosecution for illegal re-entry after deportation; and a 47-year-old man residing in Magnolia, Texas from Mexico convicted of injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury, burglary, marijuana possession, driving while license suspended and indecency with a child by sexual contact.
“ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes efforts first on removing those serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or those criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country, “ ICE stated.
Hmm. It sure sounds like Mandeep doesn’t fit ICE’s criminal alien profile or priorities any more…