New ICE Chief Considers Increasing Family Deportations

The new acting director for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said that he was considering increasing the deportation of migrant families.

Mark Morgan told reporters on June 4 that the agency will continue to deport undocumented immigrants. He said that ICE will prioritize those who have a criminal background and that no one is exempt, USA Today reported. “I think we can't exempt anybody," Morgan told reporters at ICE headquarters in Washington, DC, CNN reported. "That will include families."

During the meeting, Morgan said he would also target migrants who have a “final order of removal,” according to the news station. He noted that the crackdown would discourage migrants and their families from seeking refuge in the United States. The Trump administration has recently intensified its crackdown on immigration. US Customs and Border Patrol data show that 84,542 family units were deported in May and 332,981 thus far in 2019. In total, 593,507 families, unaccompanied minors, and single adults have been apprehended by the agency this year alone, according to the data.

Morgan also said that the Mexican government needs to take action to decrease the number of border crossings, CNN reported. Trump recently threatened the Mexican government with 5 percent tariffs on all Mexican imports if it did not stop the increase of undocumented immigrants crossing the border, CNBC reported. "They have 150 miles of choke point and a couple of major roads that are choke points that they could easily interdict. We have 2,000 miles along the southwest border," Morgan said, according to CNN.

Morgan also blamed Congress for not changing laws that would reduce incentives for migrants to cross the border in the US, Politico reported. He urged Congress to fix laws that would speed up the deportation of minors and allow families to be detained for longer periods, according to the publication. “Congress has absolutely failed in this area,” Morgan said. “It’s unsustainable and nobody should want this.”

In May, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he named Morgan acting director of ICE and replaced Ronald Vitiello. Morgan previously served as Border Patrol chief during the last three months of former President Barack Obama’s term, The New York Times reported. “I am pleased to inform all of those that believe in a strong, fair and sound Immigration Policy that Mark Morgan will be joining the Trump Administration as the head of our hard working men and women of ICE,” Trump previously said in a tweet. “Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!”

In April, Trump released a presidential memorandum proposing to make it more difficult for migrants to seek asylum in the US. The proposed rules include forcing government officials to speed up new asylum cases within 180 days, deny work permits to asylum seekers who are in the US illegally, and force immigrants who are seeking refuge in the US to pay an application fee.

“This strategic exploitation of our nation’s humanitarian programs undermines our nation’s security and sovereignty,” Trump wrote in the memo. “The purpose of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process.”

Attorney General William Barr announced in April that asylum seekers who are proven to have a “credible fear” of returning to their country will be forced to wait in detention centers until their cases are reviewed, the Associated Press previously reported. They also can no longer ask a judge to grant them bond, according to the publication. Lawmakers like Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) want to change that rule. Following the news, Booker re-introduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which would grant all detained immigrants access to a bond hearing before an immigration judge. The government would also have to prove that the migrant is dangerous in order for them to be detained.

“The Trump administration has adopted the motto of cruelty for cruelty’s sake and continues to close America’s doors to asylum seekers in their time of need,” Booker said in a previous statement. “The fact that Barr wants to strip asylum seekers of their right to due process violates our Constitution and our country’s values. Our bill will hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable and ensures vulnerable immigrants are treated with the dignity and respect that should be expected in this country.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.