Immigrant advocates protest deportation of young student, call for prosecutorial discretion

By | 10.25.11 | 11:02 am

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer arrests a suspect in Virginia (Pic via ice.gov)

South Florida immigrant advocates will be at the Broward Transistional Center today to take part in a national day of action to protest the deportation of Shamir Ali.

In a press release, the Florida Immigrant Coalition states that “DREAMers, Latinos, immigrants and their allies will hold a National Day of Action called, ‘Another Broken Promise: We are all Shamir’ in 8 cities across the nation, to demand Shamir Ali’s immediate release and to call out the Obama Administration on its broken promises about not deporting DREAM Act-eligible youth.”

The release adds that “a petition with close to 3,000 signatures will be delivered to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Washington on thursday.”

Marc Moore, director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Miami field office, writes in a letter to the Florida Immigrant Coalition:

We are cognizant of the potentially significant impact that separation may have on family members and ensure it is accounted for when evaluating requests for prosecutorial discretion. In Mr. Ali’s case, however, there is no demonstrable evidence that his removal would visit hardship on his family beyond what is typically occasioned by removal.

In short, the circumstances of Mr. Ali’s case are such that we are unable to exercise prosecutorial discretion at this time. [Read the full letter below.]

The Florida Immigrant Coalition argues that Shamir Ali qualifies for prosecutorial discretion under guidelines issued by ICE in June. Those guidelines include a series of factors that would allow ICE officials to use discretion:

  • If the alien came to the United States as a young child.
  • Whether someone has graduated from a U.S. high school or has successfully pursued or is pursuing a college or advanced degree.
  • Whether the person, or an immediate relative of the person, has served in the U.S. military, Reserves or National Guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat.

ICE recently announced that it had deported 396,000 people during fiscal year 2011. The agency’s own numbers indicate that, “of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors” and “this includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence.”

However the Immigration Policy Center argues that, “while the raw number is not in doubt, its meaning is far from clear,” adding that, according to ICE, 55 percent of those deported (approximately 218,000) were “criminal aliens,” but the definition of ‘criminal’ is overly broad.”

The Policy Center adds that ICE numbers show that “40% of criminal deportations were convicted under the four categories of homicide, sexual offenses, drug-related offenses, or driving under the influence (DUI). The other 60% of ‘convicted criminals’ fall into other categories including immigration crimes and traffic crimes.”

According to the Policy Center, “the real dilemma” for the Department of Homeland Security “is how it plans to reconcile its criminal deportation statistics with its new initiatives on prosecutorial discretion.”

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