Outraged activists want official fired over deportation memo


A leaked memo about the Obama administration’s strategy in deporting
undocumented immigrants has outraged immigrant right activists who want
the president to fire a top immigration official.

The activists, including two from South Florida, demanded the dismissal Tuesday of John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The memo, authored by James M. Chaparro,
director of ICE’s Detention and Removal Operations, complained about
dwindling noncriminal deportations and outlined new goals for ICE
agents charged with apprehending undocumented immigrants in order to
boost the number of deportations.

“He must fire Morton now,” said Maria Rodriguez of Florida Immigrant Coalition, one of several immigrant rights activists who spoke during a conference call with reporters arranged by Washington-based Fair Immigration Reform Movement on Tuesday.

Jonathan Fried, head of WeCount! in Homestead, Fla., joined the effort to remove Morton when he spoke to McClatchy Newspapers during a telephone interview after the conference call.

He cited the case of a south Miami-Dade Mexican
mother — with two U.S.-born children — who was deported a few months
ago after being stopped by the police for not having a driver’s
license. “She had no criminal record,” he said.

News of the memo was first reported by The Washington Post and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Activists are furious because the memo contradicts
ICE’s strategy shift under Obama to go after foreign convicts while
deemphasizing work-site raids and arrests of undocumented foreign
nationals with no criminal records.

ICE officials have since issued a statement saying that portions of the memo published by The Washington Post “did not reflect our policies” and were corrected or withdrawn.

“We are strongly committed to carrying out our
priorities to remove serious criminal offenders first and we
definitively do not set quotas,” the statement said.

Though Morton withdrew the Chaparro memo, activists
remain unconvinced ICE will stop going after undocumented immigrants
with no criminal records.

ICE officials, for their part, are mum on calls for Morton’s dismissal.

“We are declining comment,” Brian P. Hale, ICE’s public affairs director, told McClatchy Newspapers.


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