ALBENCE SELECTED TO BE NEW HEAD OF ICE

Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.

Could the selection of a new person to head U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signal a change in the Trump administration’s approach on immigration?  Specifically, could the selection of a new person to head ICE represent a departure from the harsh, anti-immigration policies of the Trump administration? Unfortunately, the selection of Matthew Albence to be the new head of ICE likely will only lead to even more adverse policies harming the rights of immigrants.

In an April 11 email to ICE staff, Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello wrote, “Beginning tomorrow I will be out of the office, during which time Acting Deputy Director Matt Albence will be leading the agency”.  President Trump had previously nominated Vitiello to head ICE, but rescinded Vitiello’s nomination because Trump told reporters that he wanted to go in a “tougher direction”. In response, Vitiello decided to completely resign from ICE.

Albence, who currently serves as Acting Deputy Director of ICE and previously served as ICE’s Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations, is viewed as a hard-liner on immigration enforcement issues.  One former senior official who worked with Albence said, “The joke was, ‘Matt never met an undocumented immigrant that he wouldn’t deport.’ That’s his M.O. If you’re here impermissibly, it’s time for you to go. There’s no need for discretion.  What the hell is that for?”.

Albence, who has more than 24 years of law enforcement experience, achieved some national notoriety in July, 2008 when, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described migrant family detention centers as “more like a summer camp”.  In addition, in July, 2008, Albence told reporters that some deported immigrant parents had no problem with being separated from their children because “their goal was to get their child here . . . [s]o if they have to return on their own, they’re willing to do so and leave the child here because that was the intended goal of their illegal entry in the first place”.  Albence previously in February, 2017 wrote a memo ordering ICE officers to pursue action against all undocumented immigrants (even non-criminals), changing government policy from under the Obama administration.

The decision to have Albence (instead of Vitiello) be the new head of ICE comes as part of a major shakeup in the Department of Homeland Security, with Kirstjen Nielsen, Claire Grady, and Tex Alles leaving their respective posts as Secretary, Acting Deputy Secretary, and Secret Service Director (with future departures, including L. Francis Cissna, as head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, also expected).  It may be hard to imagine, but these actions likely will move the Trump administration to adopt even more punitive measures against the rights of immigrants. In this environment, immigrants need the years of experience in immigration law of the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates to navigate through the adverse policies of the Trump administration. If your immigrant rights are being challenged in any manner by the Trump administration, please contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at taher@kameli.com or 312-233-1000, for assistance.