Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton testified before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. He focused on illegal immigration and deportation, including how ICE prioritizes deportations.
Lawmakers began the morning by questioning him about the “secure communities” program, by which ICE and FBI share info to zero in on criminal aliens. The Director praised the program and touted its success.
The hearing also discussed the recently passing laws allowing local law enforcement to check people’s legal status in Alabama and South Carolina. While lawmakers question the laws with respect to state right, Dir. Morton said that the effectiveness of the laws in place have to focus on people that just came across border, not someone who’s in the U.S. unlawfully but already had two U.S. citizen children and has settled down over a long period of time. Other states with similar laws are Georgia, Indiana and Utah.
The hearing comes after the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the federal government on Arizona’s immigration law on June 25.
On Friday, the California Senate passed a bill to protect immigrants from status checks by police. The bill is meant to push back on the a federal program called Secure communities, in which local authorities send fingerprints of those arrested to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to determine if the person is in the U.S. lawfully.