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MESA, AZ - DECEMBER 08:  An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officer prepares an undocumented Salvadorian immigrant for a deportation flight bound for San Salvador on December 8, 2010 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) MESA, AZ - DECEMBER 08: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officer prepares an undocumented Salvadorian immigrant for a deportation flight bound for San Salvador on December 8, 2010 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  

Immigrants don’t have to prove they meet DREAM Act criteria to avoid charges, ICE union chief says

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

A top union official for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers said Thursday that President Barack Obama’s administration has ordered ICE agents to blindly — and without any evidence — believe illegal immigrants if they claim they qualify for Obama’s administrative DREAM Act.

Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, explained at a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon how the new selective immigration law enforcement policy Obama announced during a White House Rose Garden speech in June is affecting the officers he represents.

“As we still wait on detailed guidance from the administration, it’s impossible to understand the full scope of the administration’s changes, but what we’ve seen so far concerns us greatly,” Crane, said. “As one example, prosecutorial discretion for DREAMers is solely based on the individual’s claims. Our orders are: If an alien says they went to high school, then let them go. If they say they have a GED, then let them go.”

“Officers have been told that there is no burden for the alien to prove anything,” he continued. “Even with the greatly relaxed policies, the alien is not required to prove that they meet any of the new criteria.”

ICE officers are often called in after local and state law enforcement officials arrest a person and find that he or she is an illegal immigrant. ICE officers also conduct their own investigations and detain suspected illegal immigrants independent of other law enforcement. Normally, if the immigrant is found to be in the country illegally, ICE would bring federal charges against him, possibly leading to deportation.

Under the new orders, however, illegals can escape federal charges simply by claiming — whether it’s the truth or not — that they meet the DREAM Act rule’s requirements issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Crane did not specify who has given his officers these new orders.

The new directive would contradict Homeland Security’s own words in announcing the policy, which said that “only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action.

Homeland Security announced in June that it will not go after illegals who came to the U.S. under the age of 16 and are not more than 30 years old; have lived in the U.S. for five straight years; are currently in school or have graduated high school, obtained a GED or been honorably discharged from the military; have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor and are not a threat to public safety.

“At this point, we don’t understand why DHS even has criteria at all as there is no requirement or burden to prove anything on the part of the alien,” Crane added. “We believe significant numbers of aliens who are not DREAMers are taking advantage of this practice to avoid arrest.”

“The lawlessness must end,” Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose office organized the presser, said.

“They’ve handcuffed and muffled those charged with protecting the public safety and the integrity of our borders,” Sessions said. “Such action has not only weakened our security but our democracy. All Americans, immigrant and native born, will have a better future if our nation remains unique in the world for its special reverence for the rule of law and fairness in our immigration system.”