Border Patrol: Obama Plan won’t likely affect operations

May 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Article published Apr 3, 2012 By Paul Gottlieb Peninsula Daily News
The Obama administration’s temporary suspension of
the immigration court dockets for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in
four cities, including Seattle, does not go far enough in addressing flaws in
the system, opponents of the Border Patrol’s stepped up presence in Clallam and
Jefferson counties said.

The move, announced last week by the federal
Department of Homeland Security, is part of an effort to delay deportations for
noncriminal illegal immigrants in the Pacific Northwest and Detroit, New Orleans
and Atlanta.

“This will have no effect on border enforcement operations,”
said Border Patrol spokesman Jeffrey Jones of the agency’s Blaine sector, which
includes Alaska, Oregon and the western half of Washington, including Clallam
and Jefferson counties.

Undocumented foreign nationals arrested on the
North Olympic Peninsula are sent to an ICE detention facility in the
Seattle-Tacoma area for processing and for removal from the U.S. to their
countries of origin.

While the non-detained dockets are closed in these
jurisdictions, U.S. Department of Justice immigration judges will shift their
time to focus on cases involving priority aliens who are in ICE
detention.

“To some degree, it’s a positive step,” Lesley Hoare of Forks
Human Rights Group said of the new policy.

The organization witnesses and
documents West End arrests by the Border Patrol as a way of monitoring the
agency’s activities.

The Border Patrol and ICE are in the Department of
Homeland Security.

“At the same time, it does not affect things out here
because it is directed toward ICE,” Hoare said.

“That’s the thing. The right hand is being told it has all this discretion, trying to unclog the
system, but they aren’t doing anything to keep the system from being clogged again.”

The new policy is “good news, obviously,” said Jim Buckley of Port Townsend, an organizer of Border Patrol Free Network.

“I don’t know if it makes a real change,” he added.

“Most people who object to Border Patrol would like more transparency, would like them to report their contacts and activities and arrests like the police and sheriffs do.”

The Border Patrol issues an incomplete weekly list of arrests with one- and two-sentence
descriptions of the incidents without identifying those arrested or their
genders, and does not answer news media inquiries about the
incidents.

“We just need a rational immigration policy with a path toward
citizenship,” Buckley said.

Border Patrol critic Lois Danks of Port Angeles, an organizer of Stop the Checkpoints, echoed Buckley.  “I think they should redo the whole immigration system,” she said.
“It shouldn’t
take so long for people to be able to get into the country or to get their
families here.”

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be
reached at 360-417-3536 or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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