From the Washington Times
Catch and release for low-priority illegals proposed
Border agency's secret draft policy includes ‘prosecutorial discretion'
by Stephen Dinan
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency charged with guarding the U.S. borders, has written a secret draft policy that would let its agents catch and release low-priority illegal immigrants rather than bring them in for processing and prosecution.
The policy, which has not been signed off on, would be the latest move by the Obama administration to set new priorities for the nation's immigration services, and would bring CBP in line with other Homeland Security Department agencies that already use such “prosecutorial discretion.”
The policy was detailed in an internal memo obtained by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and reviewed by The Washington Times, which confirmed the document.
According to the memo, the draft policy “provides circumstances when to pursue enforcement actions … and includes detailed discussion of several factors CBP personnel should consider when exercising discretion.”
Opponents say it amounts to another “backdoor amnesty” for illegal immigrants and could give the administration a tool to pressure Border Patrol agents not to pursue some people.
“Rather than allow Border Patrol agents to do their job, the Obama administration instead would like them to roll out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants,” Mr. Smith said. “This ‘catch and release' policy undermines border security, our immigration system, and CBP 's mission.”
President Obama has called for a broad immigration bill that would legalize most illegal immigrants, but with action in Congress unlikely, his administration has taken steps to try to rewrite enforcement priorities and shift deportation efforts away from rank-and-file illegal immigrants and toward gang members and those with extensive criminal records.
Those favoring a crackdown say that amounts to a de facto amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, while immigrant rights groups say he is setting records for deportations and that too many illegal immigrants without extensive criminal histories are being caught.
As part of its efforts, the administration last summer announced that it would grant broad prosecutorial discretion for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), a Homeland Security agency that enforces immigration laws in the country's interior.
That policy, which lets the agency decline to prosecute or deport some illegal immigrants, has received mixed reviews. Crackdown supporters say it's too lenient, while the immigrant advocates say it's not applied fairly.
The new draft policy detailed in the memo would apply similar rules to CBP , and the chief effect could be to give Border Patrol agents discretion not to turn over illegal immigrants for prosecution.
CBP generally operates at official points of entry and along and near the U.S. borders, with authority stretching as much as 100 miles away from an international boundary. ICE is responsible for the interior, and for most deportations.
Advocates said it makes sense to have the two agencies' policies match.
“It's a bit odd to have that huge function in terms of patrolling the borders and some of the enforcement activities that take place just this side of the border not be part of the same policy — it's frankly just kind of odd,” said Laura L. Lichter , president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
She said the draft policy shouldn't be seen as an excuse to stop enforcing immigration laws, but rather as guidelines for how the laws can best be applied, given resources and priorities.
When the Border Patrol apprehends illegal immigrants and decides they should be investigated further, it generally turns them over to ICE, whose officials already have discretion. But Ms. Lichter said some never get to ICE, and in other cases ICE attorneys are reluctant to use discretion because they don't feel comfortable dismissing cases started by another agency.
“The dirty little secret is a very large part of the immigration court docket, a very large number of people who are being referred for immigration prosecution, are actually coming from the other agencies,” she said.
The draft policy also might help those trying to enter the country legally at a port of entry who may have some red flags with past immigration violations. The new guidelines could let officers look past some minor problems.
The memo said factors agents and officers could consider would include “the alien's immigration and criminal history; claims of family, business or property ownership, ties to the community and educational background; likelihood that the alien will be granted temporary or permanent status or other relief from removal; an alien's age and health (both physical and mental), as well as the age and health (both physical and mental) of alien's immediate relatives; whether the alien is in the U.S. military or is the dependent of such a service member; and the alien's length or presence in the United States and the circumstances of his/her arrival in the United States.”
In the memo, CBP officials said the draft policy is not “administrative amnesty” and can't grant permanent legal status.
The memo said the draft policy was written by senior agency leaders.
George E. McCubbin III , president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents rank-and-file agents, said he understands why Homeland Security would want to have a similar policy across its agencies, but added that telling agents to let some people go sends the wrong message. He also said the draft policy would give the administration leeway to fiddle with key yardsticks used to measure the illegal immigration problem and potential solutions.
“This gives the agency an out when they want so the numbers don't reflect too many prosecutions or too many deportations — whatever it is that they're looking for, this gives them, I think, another tool to manipulate the numbers,” he said.
The memo pointedly warns that “no public mention” should be made of the policy in order to keep it from being subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
The memo says the policy was drafted at the behest of immigrant rights groups. Mr. McCubbin said he wished his agents had been consulted.
“It's frickin' unbelievable,” he said. “They should be talking to the rank and file, the folks that should be doing the job.”
British authorities unveil plan for mass electronic surveillance
by Raphael Satter
LONDON — British authorities on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to log details about every email, phone call and text message in the U.K.
And in a sharply worded editorial, the nation's top law enforcement official accused those worried about the surveillance program of being either criminals or conspiracy theorists.
Officials insist they're not after content. They promise not to read emails or eavesdrop on phone calls without a warrant.
But the surveillance proposed in the government's 118-page draft bill would provide British authorities a remarkably rich picture of their citizens' day-to-day lives.
Home Office Secretary Theresa May said in an editorial published ahead of the bill's unveiling that only evildoers should be frightened.
“Our proposals are sensible and limited,” she wrote in the Sun, a mass-market daily. “They will give the police and some other agencies access to data about online communications to tackle crime, exactly as they do now with mobile phone calls and texts. Unless you are a criminal, then you've nothing to worry about from this new law.”
Yet plenty of people were worried, including a senior lawmaker from Ms. May's ruling Conservative Party.
“This is a huge amount of information, very intrusive to collect on people,” lawmaker David Davis, one of the proposal's most outspoken critics, told BBC radio. “It's not content, but it's incredibly intrusive.”
Authorities and civil libertarians have been debating the plan for weeks, but Thursday marked the first time that the government itemized exactly what kinds of communication it wants to track, and how it plans to.
The bill would force communications providers - companies such as the BT Group PLC or Virgin Media Inc. - to gather a wealth of information on their customers.
Providers would log where emails, tweets, Skype calls and other messages were sent from, who they were sent to, and how large they were.
Details of file transfers, phone calls, text messages and instant conversations, such as those carried over BlackBerry Messenger, also would be recorded.
The bill also demands that providers collect IP addresses, details of customers' electronic hardware, and subscriber information including names, addresses and payment information.
Even physical communications would be monitored: Address details written on envelopes would be copied; parcel tracking information would be logged as well.
All the data would be kept for up to a year or longer if it was the subject of legal proceedings.
The measure remains a draft bill, which means it's subject to change before it is presented to Parliament.
From Google News
Geraldo Rivera: Stop, Frisk, but Don't Bully
by Geraldo Rivera
“Just as I came out of the subway at 116th Street and Lexington Avenue, I saw my son being frisked by these two cops,” the mom of a 21-year old, college bound, black high school student recounted her own deeply emotional experience with New York's controversial Stop-and-Frisk program.
“I ran over yelling, ‘keep your hands off my boy!' I almost got myself arrested.”
Happily, her encounter ended happily. No contraband was found on her son and apologies were exchanged all around.
A counselor for disabled children, she was one of three hard-working, African-American mothers who happened to be at a dinner at my New York apartment. So I seized the opportunity for an impromptu focus group on the issue that dominates local news in the Big Apple these days: what to do about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial program that last year saw 684,330 people stopped by NYPD cops, even though they were committing no obvious crime.
87% of the people stopped were black or Latino, although they represent just 52% of city population. The stops are highly intrusive. Yet while supposedly based on the cop's reasonable suspicion that “criminal activity is afoot,” the stops are also of questionable effectiveness. Just 10% result in either an arrest or a summons. Weapons are found in only one in every 1,000 stops.
Still, Mayor Bloomberg and his granite jawed police commissioner Ray Kelly are convinced that few guns are seized precisely because the desperadoes fear being stopped and frisked. They point to cities like Philadelphia (aka ‘Kill-adelphia) with about 20 murders annually per 100,000. And Chicago, where barely a weekend goes by without multiple homicides, and where there are 15 murders per 100,000. By contrast, New York averages just over six murders per 100,000. And let's be real. The reason so many of the stops involve kids of color is that it's where the crime is. Endemic poverty, widespread drug abuse and absentee fathers are a toxic mix here as elsewhere.
“I was speaking with two black cops in my neighborhood the other day,” one of the moms continued. “And these two cops were talking about the ‘Lost Generation', how so many of these teenagers and twenty year olds out there today have no dads. So many of the men were locked up during the crack epidemic. Their children, especially the boys, are raising themselves. They don't care about you. They don't even care about themselves. So I think the program has some value,” the city-wise mom admitted, “if only they were more polite.” Then she added angrily, “And, if the stops were colorblind.”
The second black mom in my tiny focus group is a pediatric nurse at a major New York hospital. She doesn't have a son, but she does have a now 30-year old brother who has been stopped numerous times. “I see the need for the program. But I'm definitely not sold on targeting and the sensitivity. Why is it just the people of color who are inconvenienced?”
The third mom is a guidance counselor at a prominent Manhattan private school. Both her children are daughters. “I almost feel guilty about having this perspective, but sometimes I see these kids hanging around out there and I know that nothing good is happening there. I make sure that I've got my hands on my iPhone or iPad. They scare the crap out of me. But I don't like that it's only the black and Latino kids who are stopped. I was walking past a group of white kids the other day, and they were definitely on meth or something. And I was wondering where are the cops now?”
From this tiny sample, three points emerge that I believe accurately reflect how most minority mothers in New York feel about Stop-and-Frisk.
1- It has value,
2- Cops need to be much more selective, professional and polite,
3- Racial profiling is unacceptable.
Further, the consequences of a police stop must be proportional. Right now, if kids are stopped and marijuana is discovered, they are charged with misdemeanor drug possession. Although prison sentences are seldom imposed on first offenders, they do carry a criminal record that forever bars the offender from a city job, and often starts them on the long, sad road to more serious crime and incarceration. New York governor Andrew Cuomo wants to reduce possession of less than 7/8 ounce of pot to a violation, which is not a crime and does not carry a criminal record.
That is a step in the right direction and it is consistent with Police Commissioner Kelly's recent directives to his officers essentially not to be arrogant bullies. But after speaking with the three moms, I am more convinced than ever that Stop-and-Frisk is one of the important reasons New York is among the world's safest big cities.
From Google News
New Phoenix police chief outlines five core principles for community
by Maddie Waldman
The new police chief of Phoenix has five things he wants his police department and citizens to adopt in order to make Phoenix a better place to live.
Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia was welcomed by approximately 75 community members at the Alwun House Arts and Cultural Center on Thursday where he discussed his commitment to his community-based plan: policing with a purpose.
Policing with a purpose, Garcia said, is a plan that involves five principles: Nurture and protect democracy, give justice to everybody, exhibit a spirit of service to everyone, show fundamental fairness and protect people from harm.
“I want my police officers to clearly understand it and adopt it, and I want the citizens to clearly adopt it,” Garcia said. “These five principles are the biggest thing, and that's what I want the community to understand.”
Phoenix community advocate Stephanie Washington said she was concerned because officers in the past were not helpful and did not make her feel welcome when she called about someone breaking into her home.
“There is prejudice down here, mainly Hispanic women and kids,” Washington said. “But it is harassment, and the police officers don't make you feel welcome.”
When officers answer calls for service, citizens have to feel like the police department is there for them and hear what they're saying in order to solve the problem, Garcia said.
Although the five principles work for the Police Department, they also work for Senate Bill 1070 and any other issues that may arise, Garcia said.
“The entire United States is looking at Phoenix, Arizona, and they're going to see how we react to the Supreme Court decision, so policing in this city will be with justice, it will be with mercy and it will be fair,” Garcia said.
Garcia is the new face of the Phoenix Police Department, and there are 3,377 officers behind him that will all be involved with to the complete-policing plan. Garcia said he has tremendous confidence in all officers involved.
Community members seemed in favor of Garcia's policing-for-a-purpose plan and the five principles it involves.
“I think the five principles are good and, I really think he's sincere, and I truly believe he will seek change for downtown districts,” Washington said. “I want to see change.”
People were also impressed that Garcia came to the Alwun House to discuss his plan for the community.
“I think it's very good he comes to the community and meets with community leaders,” said Walt Gray, a 74-year-old retired state employee from west Phoenix. “It's good he comes here to tell us the vision for the Phoenix Police Department and also let us ask questions.”
Garcia said the Neighborhoods Service Division picked to have the community meeting at Alwun House.
“They couldn't have picked a better place,” he said. “This place is outstanding!”