ICE creates confusion

It is widely known that when it comes to implementing rules, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, is inconsistent. Now ICE is creating confusion that has led to deportations that clearly contradict announcements made in D.C.

More than a month ago, immigration authorities earned recognition when they announced an important procedural change for ICE agents in Kern County. At that time, the agency announced it had eliminated the practice of arresting the undocumented—in order to deport them—when they go to county courts to take care of formalities like getting married or paying a ticket.

As it turns out, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has reported, undocumented immigrants are still being detained. This happened to Rodrigo Arenas and Luciano Sandoval. Both of them went to court to pay a ticket, and two days later, they were arrested in their homes. Sandoval said that one of the immigration agents told him he had been identified when he paid the ticket.

The strategy that ICE used in these two cases violates the spirit of the new decision. It also undermines public safety, because these actions reinforce fears among the undocumented of coming into contact with authorities, even to pay a fine.

This situation brings to mind the big confusion in the Department of Homeland Security when it implemented the Secure Communities program. At that time, ICE agents took advantage of every opportunity to arrest all undocumented immigrants they came across, whether or not they were dangerous. While the ways to interpret the program were being discussed in Washington, ICE was taking action relentlessly.

In this case, ICE is again acting like an out-of-control police force. It is time for its agents, whose union is suing the Obama administration for not letting them deport more people, to follow the rules. They must understand that their excessive zeal, instead of helping, is hurting public safety and undermining the credibility of authorities in the immigrant community.

The Department of Homeland Security must clarify things for everyone.