Maybe DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson missed this episode of Sesame Street. His November 20, 2014 memo to ICE, CBP and USCIS specifies three tiered priorities for the "Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants." At the top, Priority 1 (threats to national security, border security, and public safety) includes:
- aliens engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage, or who otherwise pose a danger to national security;
- aliens convicted of an offense for which an element was active participation in a criminal street gang;
- aliens convicted of an offense classified as a felony or an aggravated felony;
and...wait for it...
- aliens apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.
So, let me get this straight. Our top priority for immigration arrests lumps together terrorists, convicted felons, gang bangers and...drywallers, moms and kids?
To be fair, there is an out for the drywallers, moms and kids: "The removal of these aliens must be prioritized unless they qualify for asylum or another form of relief under our laws, or unless, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, CBP Sector Chief or CBP Director of Field Operations, there are compelling and exceptional factors that clearly indicate the alien is not a threat to national security, border security, or public safety and should not therefore be an enforcement priority."
But seriously, what should the Border Patrol, or, for that matter, what should any of us, make of Priority 1? I think the inclusion of drywallers, moms and kids in Priority 1 is a sop to the 'border enforcement first' crowd, as reflected in the organization of the DHS web page announcing Executive Action, giving Border Security top billing.
But, in the end...
"One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!"