Are Immigration Agents Defying the President?

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As you all know, the Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the legality of President Obama’s 2014 immigration program—Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or DAPA. Like DACA, the “mini-DREAM” rule that Obama established in 2012, DAPA codifies the president’s ability to direct prosecutorial resources by explicitly telling immigration agents to do what they’ve mostly been doing anyway: ignore undocumented immigrants who have clean records and have been in the US for a long time. The key word here is “mostly.” Nearly all immigrants who fit the DAPA criteria are left untouched, but immigration agents continue to randomly deport some of them. Over at the New Republic, Spencer Amdur makes an interesting argument that this is at the core of the legal case:

As the administration tries to rationalize its immigration policy, the biggest challenge has actually come from within….In 2011, the head of ICE, John Morton, issued a memorandum directing agents not to focus their limited resources on immigrants with clean records, long-time residence, and families in the United States….Morton issued several of these “priorities” memos, and line-level agents almost universally ignored them, continuing to deport immigrants with deep roots here and no convictions.

….Later in 2011, the administration instructed immigration prosecutors to close cases of people who were not priorities for deportation; little changed. In 2012, the administration asked agents to stop sending detention requests to local police for immigrants without criminal records. Still nothing.

….This pattern of defiance is not mentioned in any of the briefs or court decisions in United States v. Texas. But it was an essential antecedent for DAPA, which effectively forces immigration agents to follow the previous policies….This is the elephant in the courtroom. The lawsuit is not just about the balance of power between the president and Congress, as the briefs suggest. It’s about democratic control of the police. Do our elected officials have the right to control the enforcement bureaucracy?

The fact that this isn’t mentioned in any of the briefs suggests it’s not taken seriously by anyone. Should it be?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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