ICE Director: Officers Must Carry Cards to Help Them Keep Their Immigration Priorities Straight

By Susan Jones | April 14, 2015 | 12:36pm EDT

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana (AP File Photo)

( - There was a bit of show and tell Tuesday on Capitol Hill, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana told the House Judiciary Committee about her department’s efforts to enforce immigration law while also following the more lenient policies outlined by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last November.

"We have actually put out real substantial training on this, sir," Saldana told Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). "And every officer uses one of these cards, which clearly outlines those priorities."

Saldana held up one of the cards.

"And quite frankly, I carry it myself -- and try to make sure that each of these priorities...the first one is outlined on the front, the second and third priorities  on the back," she said, as she flipped the card over. "Again, trying to make an effort to clarify for law enforcement where our priorities should be."

Saldana said she has directed her staff to raise any questions about the Obama administration's immigration priorities up the chain of command.

"I have met with every one of the Field Office directors in the country by video. I have directed them that if they have any questions, they are to raise it up their chain and ultimately to me -- who bears the ultimate responsibility for the appropriate enforcement of those priorities."

As outlined by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in the Nov. 20, 2014 memo, the three immigration enforcement priorities include Priority 1, aliens who threaten national security, border security and public safety; Priority 2, aliens convicted of three or more  misdemeanor offenses or a "significant misdemeanor," as well as recent border-jumpers; and Priority 3, aliens who have been issued a final order of removal on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

Millions of illegal aliens who do not fall into one of those three categories may now remain in the United States without fear of deportation as long as Obama is president.

According to the DHS memo, "resources should be dedicated, to the greatest degree possible, to the removal of aliens described in the priorities set forth above, commensurate with the level of prioritization identified. Immigration officers and attorneys may pursue removal of a alien not identified as a priority herein, provided, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, removing such an alien would serve an important federal interest."

In an MSNBC/Telemundo interview on Feb. 25, President Obama warned immigration officials that there would be "consequences" for those who don't follow the new policies:

"There may be individual (ICE) officials or Border Patrol who aren't paying attention to our new directives. But they're going to be answerable to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, because he's been very clear about what our priorities should be....If somebody is working for ICE and there is a policy and they don't follow the policy there are going to be consequences to it," Obama said.

Republicans say not only is Obama ignoring the plain language of the law by deferring deportation for millions of illegal immigrants, but he also seems to be threatening DHS personnel -- including ICE officials and Border Patrol agents who are trying to perform their duties.

MRC Store