Politics

‘That’s Another Myth’: ICE Chief Responds To Reporter’s Question About Deportation

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
  • Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence held a White House press conference alongside numerous law enforcement officials to speak about the negative impacts of sanctuary policies. 
  • Albence began to walk out at the end of the conference, but decided to come back when a reporter asked a question about illegal aliens who are victims of crime. 
  • ICE has policies in place to protect illegal aliens who come forward about unrelated criminal activity, Albence explained, and called the subject of the question a “myth.”

After finishing a White House press conference about the impacts of sanctuary policies, the chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement walked back to the podium to respond a question about illegal aliens who are victims of crimes.

Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Matthew Albence held a press conference at the White House on Thursday to address the negative impact sanctuary policies have on communities. While flanked by numerous law enforcement officials from around the country, Albence addressed the “human impact” of sanctuary laws, and specifically ripped into Montgomery County, Maryland, for its continued refusal to cooperate with his agency.

Albence began to walk away at the close of the near hour-long conference, no longer addressing questions from reporters. However, one question in particular piqued his interest.

“Can you guarantee criminal victims won’t be prosecuted if they come forward,” a reporter asked. “Could you just speak to the victims, sir”

The question pertained to a long-held argument made by critics of federal immigration authorities. Victims of criminal activity, they contend, are afraid to approach police out of fear that their immigration status will be discovered, and lead to their deportation.

The question caused Albence to turn around and walk back to the podium. “Actually, I am going to speak to that because that’s another myth.”

“We don’t know who the victim is. We don’t randomly go in and ask individuals. We don’t have probable cause to detain for their status,” he said. “We have a policy that guides that and dictates that. And frankly, we have a robust victim-witness program within ICE to assist victims that are on this.”

Witness Matthew Albence, executive associate director Enforcement And Removal Operations U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is sworn in during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of Immigration Enforcement and Family Reunification Efforts" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

Matthew Albence, executive associate director Enforcement And Removal Operations U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

The U.S. government does, in fact, have policies in place to protect illegal aliens who were either a victim of a crime, or a key witness to a crime. The U-visa program, for example, was established in 2000 to incentivize foreign nationals living in the U.S. to hep law enforcement and prosecute criminals. Illegal aliens who are granted a U-visa are allowed to remain in the country as they assist police.

Sanctuary laws are policies enacted by state and local jurisdictions that, broadly speaking, protect illegal immigrants from ICE apprehension. These laws typically bar local law enforcement agencies from any sort of cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

For example, if an illegal alien is arrested for an unrelated crime and placed into a local detention center, ICE will issue a detainer request, which asks the officials involved to hold the individuals for at least another 48 hours until an ICE agent can arrive. Police who work within a sanctuary community are forced to ignore such requests. (RELATED: Montgomery County Named One Of The Worst ‘Sanctuary Communities’ In The US)

There are countless examples of illegal aliens who were released back into the community — evading ICE apprehension because their detainer was ignored — and went on to commit more crimes.

“Laws and policies like these make us all less safe,” Albence said during the briefing. “People are being hurt and victimized every day because of jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE. As law enforcement professionals, it’s frustrating to see senseless acts of violence and other criminal activity happen in our communities knowing full well that ICE could’ve prevented them with just a little cooperation.”

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