The New York Times, in a November 12 article by Julia Preston ("Deportations under new US policy are inconsistent") has confirmed what many immigration lawyers already suspect, namely that many ICE officers are ignoring the June 17 John Morton "prosecutorial discretion" memo (see also Greg Siskind's blogging in the November 16 ID). However, it is difficult to see how ICE officers could follow the Morton memo and still reach what, by all indications, continues to be the White House's target of nearly 400,000 deportations per year.
At least one White House spokesperson, Cecilia Munoz, is under fire from Latino groups for trying to defend the high deportation levels by using the discredited excuse that the administration has no power to change its immigration policies without Congressional action. Does anyone seriously think that Obama is about to change the cowardly, cynical strategy of chasing after anti-immigrant white "centrist" voters that he has been following ever since he took office, now that next year's election is less than a year away?
Are ICE officers who are disregarding the Morton memo really ignoring a genuine change in DHS policy, or do they know something we do not know? More accurately, do they know something that we always suspected and now know with greater certainty than ever before: the Morton memo was only an empty public relations ploy aimed at Latino voters that was never seriously meant to be followed in the first place?
Maybe, instead of blaming ICE officers for puportedly failing to follow White House policy on deportation, we should congratulate the ones who have shown the courage to defy the White House - by taking the Morton memo at face value.