Immigrant advocates pushing for reform of the nation’s immigration laws have called on the White House to replace John Morton, the administration’s top immigration official.
The call came the day after Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, convened a meeting at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C. after a CIR/Washington Post story March 27 disclosed agency memos and other documents setting quotas to deport more illegal immigrants.
In preparation for immigration law reform legislation, the Obama administration has said it will concentrate on deporting violent and dangerous criminals while remaining tough on enforcement. Immigrant rights groups said that the memo contradicts earlier commitments.
ICE issued a statement the day of publication, which followed a new memo written by James M. Chaparro, the head of the agency’s deportation office. Chaparro authored the initial memo that the ICE officials said was sent without Morton’s approval. The second memo does “not alter or rescind” earlier strategies, according to the Washington Post story.
At the meeting Chaparro apologized to immigrant activists, according to people who attended, and was reprimanded by Morton. Unsatisfied with the response, immigrant activists from around the country on Tuesday called on President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to dismiss Morton.
“The reality is that ICE has gone rogue and needs to be reined in with dramatic action,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change. “The President himself affirmed for us when we met with him a few weeks ago that the focus of enforcement would be on protecting the country’s security by focusing on criminal behavior.”
An ICE spokesman declined to comment, according to the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald.
Meanwhile, the White House is rejecting the notion that the legislative effort in the Senate to overhaul immigration law this year is “dead,” The Hill reports.
The Obama administration has behind the scenes been preparing for possible reform, but immigration reform activists have complained that the White House isn’t pushing as hard as it should. So, the question now is, if it won’t happen this year, when? And are officials considering administrative remedies if the political capital and will are wanting?