A FoxNews.com article asserted that undocumented immigrants protesting outside the White House were given "a pass" from being arrested by immigration officials who prioritize apprehensions and deportations for more serious offenders. Immigration officials argue that targeting peaceful immigrants would divert limited federal resources from its focus on criminal offenders.
A July 28 FoxNews.com article criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) policy on the prioritization of deportation after undocumented immigrants protested outside of the White House were not apprehended and deported. Despite being told by ICE officials that "the agency prioritizes deportation for felons," Fox dismissed the policy describing it as "a pass to other undocumented residents":
Illegal immigrant demonstrators were protesting outside the White House on Monday -- but don't expect America's immigration officers to intervene.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official indicated that even if the protesters end up getting arrested by D.C. police, they'd have to be serious criminals for ICE to get involved.
"Unless the individuals meet ICE's enforcement priorities, it's unlikely that the agency would get involved in the case," the official told FoxNews.com.
Under a policy that's been in effect for several years, ICE focuses deportation mostly on serious criminals and - in some cases -- those caught in the act of crossing the border. The agency prioritizes deportation for felons, repeat offenders, gang members and others with a serious criminal record. But the agency largely gives a pass to other undocumented residents.
Fox's desire for immigration officials detain peaceful White House protesters ignored the importance of ICE using its finite resources to prioritize the apprehension and removal of undocumented immigrants with criminal records. In a memo outlining the protocol on deportation detentions, ICE director John Morton explained that "these priorities ensure that ICE's finite enforcement resources are dedicated, to the greatest extent possible, to individuals whose removal promotes public safety, national security, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system."
In fact, ICE reported that in FY 2013 more than 82 percent of all apprehension and deportation of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. were individuals who "had been previously convicted of a crime." Moreover, the Obama administration has consistently increased the percentage of convicted criminals deported since 2009. According to ICE:
Overall, ICE conducted 216,810 removals of convicted criminals in FY 2013, the highest percentage of removals (59 percent) recorded for the previous five fiscal years. Convicted criminal removals, as a percentage of total removals, increased by four percent in FY 2013, and Level 1 removals, as a percentage of total removals, increased by one percent from FY 2012. Overall, 74,159 of the convicted criminals removed were Level 1 offenders, 47,198 were Level 2 offenders and 95,453 were Level 3 offenders.