Washington, DC - Statement By Secretary Jeh C. Johnson On The Migration Policy Institute Report:
I am pleased that the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute has taken note of our initiative to “substantially transform the U.S. deportation system.” In November 2014, I announced our new enforcement priorities which focus our resources on public safety and border security, while deprioritizing those undocumented who have been here for years, committed no serious crimes, and have in effect become integrated members of society. The report notes, correctly:
“The overall impact of the new [policy] is to describe DHS enforcement priorities more precisely and more narrowly than was the case under the 2010 and 2011 guidance, while broadening the circumstances under which DHS personnel should exercise discretion – including by identifying reasons departmental personnel may choose not to deport people who generally fall within the enforcement priorities.”
Critical to these enhanced efforts to bolster public safety through immigration enforcement is our new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which replaced the controversial and increasingly unworkable Secure Communities program. Here again, the report notes, correctly:
“If implemented as described… the PEP program will ensure that interior removals reflect enforcement priorities in the 2014 memo, and will increase the proportion of serious criminals among the removal population.”
Secure Communities was not working, and leading to less cooperation with state and local law enforcement, not more. The new program is, so far, receiving an overall positive response from state and local jurisdictions who want to work with us again to promote public safety. I caution against any effort in Congress, in reaction to the tragic event in San Francisco, to federally mandate by legislation the conduct of state and local law enforcement, just as our efforts to re-generate cooperation are getting off the ground. Rather, I urge members of Congress to encourage state and local law enforcement in the states and districts they represent to join in the new PEP program.
We still need comprehensive reform to fix the Nation's broken immigration laws. We will continue to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to remove the most dangerous convicted criminals and individuals who pose a threat to our Nation’s security.