Immigrant advocates called for the Philadelphia city administration to stop honoring ICE Holds for those taken into police custody. ICE holds occur when local or state authorities notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement that they have detained a non-citizen for a criminal offense. ICE then places a detainer on the person in custody which is a request to the holding facility that the person not be released unless ICE is advised so that they have a chance to come and take the person into ICE custody.
Many times, the offense is somewhat minor and, nevertheless, the ICE hold is placed and the person ends up being placed in removal proceedings and deported for a petty offense. And usually, the offense is not the actual reason for deportation. Rather, many of these people are simply undocumented immigrants who are deported because of an overstayed visa, for example.
Mayor Michael Nutter is considering signing an executive order that would end compliance with ICE detainers except for people accused or convicted of first or second-degree felonies. This will eliminate people with minor offenses or traffic offenses from being placed in the immigration system for deportation.
Local city governments, states, and even the President will continue to tweak unfair immigration laws as long as the legislative branch of the United States government continues its stalemate when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. Sooner or later, our country’s immigration laws will change. Congress has the option to be part of that change and have a say in how the change is implemented. If they continue to stall, however, it will be taken from their hands and dealt with by the people.