(CNSNews.com) - On Aug. 23, a late-summer Friday, John Sandweg, the acting director of Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE), issued a memo stating that his agency seeks to enforce immigration law "fairly and with respect for a parent's rights and responsibilities."
The new policy, which falls under the heading of "prosecutorial discretion," reads as follows:
ICE personnel should ensure that the agency's immigration enforcement activities do not unnecessarily disrupt the parental rights of both alien parents or legal guardians of minor children. Particular attention should be paid to immigration enforcement activities involving 1) parents or legal guardians who are primary caretakers; 2) parents or legal guardians who have a direct interest in family court or child welfare proceedings; 3) parents or legal guardians whose minor children are physically present in United States and are (U.S. citizens) or (legal permanent residents). Ice will maintain a comprehensive process for identifying, placing, monitoring, accommodating and removing alien parents or legal guardians of minor children, while safeguarding their parental rights.
The memo defines "parental rights" as the "fundamental rights of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their minor children, without regard to the child's citizenship..."
The 9-page memo says illegal alien parents who are deported from the U.S. should be allowed to return for "humanitarian reasons," or to attend court hearings that will determine guardianship of their children.
The Washington Times, one of the first to report the story, quoted Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), as saying that President Obama has "once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws." Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The Obama administration previously has told immigration officials to defer deportation for young people who came to this country illegally as children, and for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who have family members, including same-sex partners, in the U.S.
The administration established its "prosecutorial discretion" policy in a June 17, 2011 memo, stating that “aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety shall be ICE's highest immigration enforcement priority.” Under the policy, low-level offenders who pose no risk get a pass.
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