Obama Judge Cripples ICE, Guts ‘Secure Communities’
Afederal district judge appointed by Barack Obama has shackled a program thatthe Obama administration used to detain criminal aliens.
Judge Andre Birotte Jr., issued a permanent injunction barring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from using fingerprint databases when making detainer requests to local police.
Birotte’s ruling blows a hole in the Secure Communities program initiated by President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama. Under that program, when persons were arrested and booked into jail, their fingerprints were sent to the FBI and ICE. If the individual was an illegal alien ICE would ask local authorities to hold the suspect until it could take custody.
PreviouslyObama’s U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, Birotte on Friday asserted that the databases often contained “incomplete data, significant errors, or were not designed to provide information that would be used to determine a person’s removability.”
JohnMorton, Obama’s first ICE director, called Secure Communities “the future of immigration enforcement” because it “focuses our resources on identifying and removing the most serious criminal offenders first and foremost.”
A Department ofJustice spokesman criticized Birotte’s ruling, saying, “Detainers are critical to the Department ofHomeland Security’s efforts to remove thousands of criminal aliens each year.Detainers use one of the best features of our law-enforcement system:good-faith cooperation between federal immigration officers and their local law enforcement partners to keep dangerous criminals out of our communities.
“Many courts across the country have correctly concluded that this cooperation is lawful and have rejected legal challenges to the use of detainers. This decision wrongly breaks with those many decisions and puts our communities at risk.”
But Birotte wasn’t done. He also barred ICE from issuing detainers in states where there isn’t an explicit statute authorizing civil immigration arrests on detainers.
The ruling effectively blocks detainers in the federal court system’s Central District of California. The Los Angeles Times called that designation significant because the Pacific Enforcement Response Center, located in the Central District, is the ICE hub from which agents send detainer requests to 43 states, Guam, and Washington, D.C.
Overall, ICE lodged more than 160,000 detainers with local law enforcement agencies during fiscal 2019.
Another point of interest: In 2017, Judge Birotte temporarily halted the Trump administration’s travel ban on countries with terrorist connections. The ban was upheld on appeal.
Americans can only hope that Birotte’s latest spasms of judicial activism will receive similar treatment from higher courts.