Patricia M. Vroom is the top attorney for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in Arizona. When the Obama administration initiated its unilateral policy of “prosecutorial discretion”, allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. as long they have not yet been convicted of a serious felony crime, they found attorney Vroom too slow in authorizing the release of illegal aliens who had committed crimes in the U.S. but did not yet meet the administration’s high threshold for seeking deportation of such undocumented aliens.
U.S. immigration law, as enacted by Congress pursuant to the Constitution, provides that any alien who has unlawfully entered the U.S. is inadmissible and cannot be legally admitted. Inadmissible aliens are subject to removal from the U.S. even if they commit no additional crimes other than illegal entry. And even if legally admitted, aliens are subject to removal/deportation if convicted of any of a wide variety of crimes including misdemeanors. The Obama administration and all civil servants in the executive branch share the president’s constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
Attorney Vroom reported being bullied and harassed by officials in Washington when she raised concerns about the application of the Obama administration’s prosecutorial discretion policy. She said that Obama administration officials lowered her annual performance rating for moving too cautiously to authorize the release of undocumented aliens with criminal records. She sued the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part, for age and sex discrimination.
The Department has agreed to pay attorney Vroom $400,000 taxpayer dollars to end her lawsuit. The Department has also agreed to upgrade her annual performance rating to “achieved excellence”. As part of the settlement Vroom will retire on October 1 after 30 years working for the federal government. The Department did not admit to any wrongdoing.
This was reported by New York Times reporter Julia Preston, whose beat includes immigration. Her story was published as a single paragraph in the “National Briefing” feature at the bottom of page A13 of the print edition of the Times on Saturday, August 29, 2015.