by Greg Moses
Immigrant advocate Ralph Isenberg is hopeful that a new federal memo on prosecutorial discretion will change the way things work in the Dallas area.
In a memo of June 17, 2011 Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton affirmed that ICE officers and attorneys share discretionary powers to determine the value of prosecuting individual cases.
“ICE must prioritize the use of its enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets to ensure that the aliens it removes represent, as much as reasonably possible, the agency’s enforcement priorities, namely the promotion of national security, border security, public safety, and the integrity of the immigration system,” said Morton in the background section of his six-page memo.
Isenberg, who has been an advocate for several immigrants, says that “all the cases I’m working on are going to have some meaningful relief coming, if the Morton memo is followed.”
Recently, Isenberg has been a public advocate for Saad Nabeel, a Texas college student who was deported to Asia; Olga Zanella, a young Dallas area resident who was threatened with deportation following a traffic violation; and Hector Lopez, an Oregon college student who was deported to Mexico, but who returned to the USA for a Christmas Eve reunion with his mother.
“Basically the memo says we don’t have the time to go after students, elderly, pregnant women, or people with medical problems,” said Isenberg on Sunday morning, speaking via telephone.
“Dallas says we can’t treat anyone special otherwise everyone gets to stay,” says Isenberg. “This memo says you will treat people different. It says that the elderly are important to this country. Minors are important. Kids who grew up here are important. Students are important. But if you’re a felon, you don’t count, get the hell out of here.”
Isenberg says he is waiting to see how ICE authorities in the Dallas office will respond to the memo.
“If the memo wasn’t intended for action, why release it?”