This Date in Obama’s Administrative Amnesty: March 2, 2011

This Date in Obama's Administrative AmnestyOn March 2, 2011, under growing pressure from the open borders lobby, then-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Direct John Morton issued the first of a series of memos (known as the Morton Memos) whereby the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began to implement formal measures to relax the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. Collectively, the Morton Memos constitute nothing less than the granting of administrative amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens currently in the United States.

In this first departmental memo, ICE Director Morton outlined new enforcement priorities to ensure immigration agents do not enforce the law against illegal aliens who do not meet these priorities. According to Director Morton, immigration agents are required to prioritize the apprehension, detention, and removal of:

  1. Aliens who pose a danger to national security or are a risk to public safety;
  2. Illegal aliens who have recently entered the U.S.; and
  3. Aliens who are fugitives or “otherwise obstruct immigration controls.”

Under this memo, ICE’s priorities do not include the vast majority of illegal aliens currently in the United States—i.e., those who have neither been convicted of a crime or have been caught and absconded. Additionally, the memo sets out guidelines for limiting detention for certain illegal aliens. Although the memo states that nothing in it shall be construed “to prohibit or discourage” enforcement of U.S. immigration laws in general, it concludes that “resources should be committed primarily to advancing the priorities set above.” Morton justifies this non-enforcement policy as the use of “prosecutorial discretion.”

Read more at FAIR’s President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    What is an illegal alien?? If they are illegal then why wouldn’t they be tracked down and deported.we have prisons full of ILLEGAL PEOPLE. Law breakers, people who entered the US by sneaking over the border. They breached the fence that’s there to keep Illegal people out.
    The absolutely stupid decision to not hunt these people down is beyond belief. These illegals are in every part if America. They are a problem and the problem will continue to get worse.
    These decisions about Illegal Alliens s a sad state. Just another constant reminder how low the American pride has slipped. The ABCESS of the Obama Administation infection has spread to every corner of the UNITED STATES. Just makes me sad and ashamed of where we’re headed.