White House Revives Push for Dream Act; Duncan Touts Immigration-Reform Bill as ICE Relaxes Deportation Protocols

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 28, 2011 | Go to article overview

White House Revives Push for Dream Act; Duncan Touts Immigration-Reform Bill as ICE Relaxes Deportation Protocols


Byline: Ben Wolfgang, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Administration officials are beginning to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to pass controversial immigration-reform measures, but critics fear the changes are already being made without lawmakers' consent.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters on Monday the nation desperately needs to enact the Dream Act, which would prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants who are studying at American colleges and universities or have served at least two years in the military.

The legislation, which was drafted a decade ago, has faced strong opposition in Congress each time it's been reintroduced and stands little chance of passing this time around, especially with Republicans in control of the House.

But the administration has bypassed Congress and begun to relax its deportation protocol. In a June 17 memo, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said agents should exercise discretion when deciding who can stay and who must go.

Special consideration should be given to military veterans, those who have graduated high school or are pursuing college degrees, the elderly, minors, pregnant women and those with serious health conditions, he said. An immigrant's ties and contributions to the community and his ties to the home country and the conditions in the country should also be weighed, according to the memo.

Mr. Duncan said the administration's top priority, when determining whom to deport, is criminal behavior. He said ICE officials are less interested in students and other law-abiding residents.

Mr. Morton's memo instructs agents to consider a person's criminal history, as well as whether he is a national security threat or public safety concern, before making a decision on deportation.

The change has drawn fire from Republicans, and Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, plans to introduce legislation blocking selective deportations by ICE. …

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