Response to ICE Director’s Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2015

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org

Saldaña’s Prayers Are an Immigrant Family’s Nightmare

WASHINGTON — Testifying before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah R. Saldaña shocked the immigrant advocacy community when she said, “Thank you. Amen. Yes,” in response to a question from Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) about whether Congress should make immigration detainers, or requests to local law enforcement officials to hold immigrants for ICE, mandatory. Today, Saldaña issued a statement in which she attempts to clarify that she believes such detainers should not be made mandatory. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“In her first hearing testifying before Congress as ICE director, Sarah Saldaña showed little regard for immigrant families and even less concern for the U.S. Constitution as she lamented the fact that litigation had precluded her agents from going after immigrants in local communities. Her attempt today to “clarify” her position only raised more concerns, as the statement seems to serve mostly to tout the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), the administration’s new immigration enforcement strategy. Director Saldaña has left immigrant advocates across the nation wondering whether PEP is simply S-COMM — a program that shattered countless immigrant families and has led to Fourth Amendment violations — by another name.

“The Department of Homeland Security is in the process of implementing significant policy changes to its enforcement and deportation priorities announced by President Obama last November. These changes are meant to restore order and fairness to our immigration system, which has for far too long resulted in the deportation of mothers, fathers, and workers. These changes were also designed to allow local law enforcement leaders to restore immigrant communities’ trust in them.

“Director Saldaña’s comments are deeply troubling and run counter to the new DHS policies. We urge President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to ensure that everyone within ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from top to bottom, complies with the president’s recent executive actions on immigration.”

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