ICE Head John Morton’s Dereliction of Duty

In an astonishingly arrogant move, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, announced yesterday that his agency may not necessarily process suspected illegal aliens who are referred to it by Arizona law enforcement officials under Arizona’s recently enacted SB 1070.  “I don’t think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution,” Morton reportedly told the Chicago Tribune editorial board.  According to Morton, the Arizona law, which in part requires authorities to check suspects for immigration status, is not “good government.”

Evidently, Morton may not just be second-guessing Arizona law, but federal law as well.   Passed during the Clinton administration, federal statute 8 U.S.C. § 1373  requires that “the Immigration and Naturalization Service shall respond to an inquiry by a Federal, State, or local government agency, seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information.”

Unfortunately for Morton, he doesn’t get to pick and chose which federal immigration laws he agrees with and which ones he doesn’t.  At least when it comes to verifying an individual’s immigration status when requested to do so, the American people have already spoken through their elected representatives in Congress.   ICE cannot deny assistance to Arizona without breaking federal law itself.  Of course, as the head of ICE, Morton is charged with enforcing and upholding all federal immigration law.  And he ultimately answers to a President who swore “to faithfully execute” his office as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America.  They should both stop second guessing the American people and simply do their jobs.