I heard back from ICE. Not in an official reaction of course. That would have been too much honor, but because I talked to attorneys who had read the posting. The reaction was threefold:
1) What I described never happened and the blog was a personal attack on the attorney who had given the presentation;
2) I don't want the ICE attorneys to do their job; and,
3) I believe that everybody gets to stay and nobody gets deported, especially not my clients.
1. The attorney I talked to disputed my account, but at the same time confirmed that ICE "informs and advises" county attorney's office on the immigration consequences of convictions. In other words, what I described did in fact happen, exactly as I described.. The reason for my post was that I was infuriated with the attempt of ICE attorneys to influence the prosecution by county attorneys to ensure that people are mandatorily detained and that they aren't eligible for relief due to the nature of the conviction. This had nothing to do with singling out one attorney. It just happened that she was gloating about it.
2. I do want ICE attorneys to do their job. However, they are being conditioned to misunderstand what their job is. It is not their mission to make sure that everyone who is out of status or in violation of immigration law is deported. Based on my experiences with these ICE attorneys my impression is that they think that they have to "win" every time and that enforcement is synonymous with deportation.This is not a new problem and it is not even their fault. Ever since Immigration became part of this monstrosity that's called Homeland Security, ICE employees have been told that they were our country's first and final defense against the enemy. I never really understood why immigration became part of national security in the first place. In that way of thinking everything would be part of national security and every department could be engulfed by DHS, including food and drugs, transportation, treasury etc., all possible targets for terror. Moreover, we threw billions their way and certainly made them believe they were suddenly extremely important. Please note that nobody (but a few) cared about immigration enforcement prior to September 11, 2001.
The job of ICE attorneys is to directly represent the interests of the US government and the public interest as a whole. When their position, in my opinion, is in conflict with their mandate, I'm calling foul. For years, we were made to believe that ICE was accurately representing the Administration's (i.e. right wing Republicans) position. However, I vaguely remember that we had an election in 2008 and, based on the comments of the President and officials representing the federal government, it appears that this Administration openly has a different position towards immigration. I want ICE to adequately represent its client, the US government and our interests as citizens. It is not in the best interest of this country to make winning cases and deportation paramount over family unity, economic interests, community survival, educational benefits, fundamental rights of US citizen children, second chances and humane policies. Granting relief to someone in deportation proceedings could also be a win for the government. In addition, immigration law is not punitive and ICE attorneys should stop seeing themselves as the enforcer, or the ultimate crime fighter. It is unfortunate that because the agency was labeled Enforcement they actually believe that this is a legal term. It is merely a word of art that should have never been used. What was wrong with Immigration and Naturalization Service? Nothing.
3. Just because I'm critical of perverse behavior and of unethical attempts to circumvent the legal system, I'm not of the opinion that everyone gets to stay. In my previous posts I indicated that a person whose only crime is to have used a fake ID or SSN in order to be able to work, should not be mandatorily detained and automatically deported (even when it was found that the SSN did belong to someone else). I continue to believe that such a person should be eligible for bond and should be allowed his or her day in court. And I continue to believe that when ICE Office of the Chief Counsel promotes a policy with the county attorneys that would strip an immigration judge of discretion, it is conspiratorial, unethical, borderline illegal and definitely not in the best interest of this country. End of story.