Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced in June it was urging prosecutors to use discretion when placing illegal immigrants in deportation proceedings, skeptics urged caution. We’ve heard this before, they claimed.
People like Roxann Lara give them one more reason to say they were right.
Lara, originally from Delicias, Chihuahua, is five months pregnant and the mother of two U.S. citizen children. She is in the country illegally because she overstayed a visa. Her attorney says she’s the “poster child” for leniency under the June directive.
Instead, Lara was detained and processed by immigration authorities in Anthony, N.M., last week after she admitted to having expired documents when local police and U.S. Border Patrol agents came to the door looking for her sister.
It means the “left hand isn’t aware of what the right hand is doing,” said Carlos Spector, Lara’s El Paso-based attorney. "I think it’s important to note that this [directive] has not reached the lowest levels of ICE... because [Border Patrol agents] are still picking up pregnant women."
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When asked if the Border Patrol has amended it’s policies since the Morton memo was issued, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso sector told the Tribune agents are required to detain anyone who is unauthorized to be in the country. They can't give out warnings the way police officers can, he said; the immigration courts are the ones that ultimately make the decisions.
In Lara's case, Agent Ramiro Cordero said, Border Patrol "did exactly what we were supposed to do. If the courts grant that person some type of legal document, then the system works." Cordero added that the Morton memo was directed at federal prosecutors, who are overseen by ICE. U.S. Border Patrol, he said, is under the purview of Customs and Border Protection.
"Until there is policy and guidance from DHS, we still do what we have to do," he said.