Immigration activists denounce quota memo

By Clement tan and Teresa watanabe – LA TImes

They call for the ouster of the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a top department official lamented that the pace of deportations was falling behind a goal of 400,000 annually.

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington – A coalition of immigrant rights groups Tuesday demanded the ouster of the nation’s top immigration official, charging that underlings at Immigration and Customs Enforcement were thwarting Obama administration policy by setting a quota on deportations.

“The reality is that ICE has gone rogue and needs to be reined in with dramatic action,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Community Change. “The agency charged with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws is systematically deceiving the president and the American public.”

The accusations followed a weekend report in the Washington Post about a Feb. 22 memo from a top ICE official lamenting that the pace of deportations was falling behind a goal of 400,000 annually. The memo also outlined policy changes to turn around the trend.

Bhargava’s group, along with several regional activist groups, called on President Obama to replace John T. Morton, the assistant secretary in charge of ICE at the Department of Homeland Security.

The activists said the agency memo was “a clear violation” of previous statements by Morton that his agency did not set deportation quotas and diverts from the administration’s stated position that it would focus deportation efforts on undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes. READ MORE

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