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ICE agents sue own agency over deferred deportations

By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY

A group of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents filed a lawsuit against their own agency Thursday, arguing that the Obama administration is not letting them fully identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says her department does not have the manpower or money to deport the 11 million illegal immigrants in the USA, so she issued a memorandum last year ordering immigration officials to focus their efforts on dangerous illegal immigrants. In June, Obama announced a program that will allow up to 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the USA as children to have deportations deferred for at least two years.

The 10 ICE agents suing Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton say those directives violate the Constitution and federal immigration law. “We are federal law enforcement officers who are being ordered to break the law,” said Chris Crane, an ICE agent and president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, a union for ICE employees. “This directive puts ICE agents and officers in a horrible position.”

ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein did not comment on the lawsuit but said more than half of the nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants deported in 2011 had been convicted of crimes, the largest number in the agency’s history. He said that shows the decision to focus on the most dangerous illegal immigrants is a policy that works, and June’s decision to defer deportation for young illegal immigrants enhances that strategy.

A spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Obama may have overstepped his authority by ordering the deportation deferments, and Romney would forge a long-term solution with Congress instead of relying on Obama’s “stop-gap measure.”

“The courts will have to sort this out, but this kind of uncertainty is unacceptable as these young people brought here as children are seeking clarity on their long-term status,” spokesman Ryan Williams said.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a Dallas federal court, requests that a judge strike down the two directives and protect the agents from any retribution for their lawsuit.

The suit is funded by NumbersUSA, a group that proposes lower levels of legal and illegal immigration, and the attorney is Kris Kobach, the secretary of State of Kansas who has helped Arizona and Alabama craft strict anti-illegal-immigration laws. His work on this lawsuit is not part of his official state duties.

The lawsuit was supported by some GOP legislators who have criticized Obama’s immigration plans as “backdoor amnesty.”

“These agent’s mission is to keep our borders secure, but the head of their agency is directing them otherwise, telling them to undermine their missions and contradict immigration law,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said the program actually helps ICE officials by allowing them to focus on the most dangerous illegal immigrants. “Deferred action is a major boost to law enforcement who do not have to waste time on honor students and can do the harder work of actually tracking down and deporting criminals,” he said.

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Falfurrias, Texas: Smugglers taking toll on South Texas

https://i0.wp.com/usopenborders.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/human_smuggling.jpg

FALFURRIAS, Texas – After several hours of surveillance, the pursuit was on. A smuggler loaded down with illegal immigrants in an SUV last month tried to outrun a trail of law enforcement vehicles, with more waiting up ahead on Highway 281 north of Falfurrias.

Finally, yanking his vehicle onto the shoulder, stopping short of a landowner’s fence, the smuggler’s human cargo bailed out, running into the brush, followed closely by sheriff’s deputies from Brooks and Jim Wells County, and U.S. Border Patrol agents.

“We’re doing it with the manpower that we have and that’s where it hurts,” said Capt. Joe Martinez, of the Jim Wells Sheriff’s Office. “We don’t have the manpower.”

According to Susan Durham, executive director of the South Texans’ Property Rights Association, most counties do not get federal funding for more manpower, unlike those that are within 25 miles of the border.

“There’s already funds in place for them,” Durham said. “But that’s not where the border is anymore.”

Durham said landowners often are being overrun by smugglers who crash through fences and gates, going cross-country from ranch to ranch, usually in stolen trucks.

She said just in the past eight months, several ranches in Jim Wells and Brooks counties have seen 24 bailouts.

Each incident has averaged $540 in repairs to fences and gates, Durham said.

“Now if they compensate the people right away, it would be a lot different,” said Raul Garcia, a longtime rancher.

After at least two bailouts on his property, Garcia said he was warned he would be prosecuted if he shot anyone.

Garcia said he’s heard other ranchers are putting spikes facing traffic on their ranch gates.

“They try to ram them, they’ll bust the radiator,” Garcia said.

Durham said her organization helped revise the state’s transportation code to reimburse landowners for the property damage.

She said the money initially would have been excess funds from the sale of abandoned vehicles.

“Excess means what’s left over after paying expenses such as towing and storage,” Durham said.

But Durham said there’s been a snag in the funding for the program that would have used Brooks County as a template for the rest of South Texas.

“Smugglers are gaming the system by using vehicles that are stolen or that have high liens on them,” Durham said.

She said they also use the “innocent friend excuse,” telling authorities they loaned the vehicle to a friend unaware it would be used for smuggling.

As a result, Durham said her organization will go back to the Texas Legislature, and even ask the federal government for help.

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