Changing ICE culture to deport challenging, advocate says

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – “When I see ICE agents or the police, I have fear,” an undocumented Filipina, who’s been living in the shadows for 13 years, shared.

A new directive by the Obama administrative to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents hopes to ease some of that fear.

Immigration officials are now tasked to identify undocumented immigrants who may be spared from deportation under President Barack Obama’s executive orders.

They must also look into the list of jailed immigrants to see if they qualify for relief.

Some immigrant rights advocates said implementing this could be a challenge.

Anoop Prasad of the Asian Law Caucus said, “It’s really difficult for an agency to just change its organizational culture overnight. For decades, the culture over at ICE or INS, has been to deport as many people as possible. Now you’re asking agents to change that.”

But Prasad said undocumented immigrants should not let fear stop them from applying for President Obama’s relief measures.

“When they apply for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) or DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents), it’s not ICE that makes the decision whether or not it should be granted. It’s a different agency called USCIS, which isn’t responsible for deportations, just responsible for processing paperwork,” pointed out Prasad.

This immigrant rights advocate also said it’s imporant for undocumented immigrants to document that they qualify for the president’s DACA and DAPA programs and know their rights when they come face-to-face with an ICE agent.

Prasad insist that deportation protections are in place even if the undocumented immigrant that’s eligible has not applied for relief yet.

The government estimates that more than two million undocumented immigrants will be approved for deportation relief in the next few years. They will also be eligible to collect social security and Medicare benefits.

Applications for Obama’s expanded DACA program begin February 18 and DAPA applications start May 19.

But there are about twelve million undocumented immigrants in America. And for those not eligible for President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, they said the only way they can truly come out of the shadows is if U.S. lawmakers finally pass a more lasting, more comprehensive relief through immigration reform.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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  • Generoso Magaoay
    3 February 2015 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    It is really sad to see that the culture of immigrant advocates has changed for the worst. Instead of advocating for legalized immigration process, the norm today is advocating criminalization of immigration process. I see what it is, never mind the pride and dignity, the big money is defending illegal immigration.

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