PHOENIX - APRIL 28: An undocumented Mexican immigrant waits to be deported from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), center on April 28, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Across Arizona, city police and county sheriffs' departments turn over detained immigrants to ICE, which deports them to their home countries, most to Mexico. Last year the federal agency deported some 81,000 illegal immigrants from the state of Arizona alone, and with the passage of the state's new tough immigration enforcement law, the number of deportations could rise significantly. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The Obama administration’s immigration-enforcement agency has distributed a list outlining protected classes of illegal aliens who should not be arrested: those who are mentally ill, disabled, pregnant, elderly, nursing or caring for children or sick people.

Except in cases of extraordinary circumstances, Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy requires federal field-office directors not to detain groups of illegal aliens who are purportedly protected from “mandatory detention,” according to an internal memo by ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton.

“The priorities shall apply across all ICE programs and shall inform enforcement activity, detention decisions, budget requests and execution and strategic planning,” the June 30 memo states.

Morton adds that the Homeland Security agency only has resources to remove approximately 400,000 aliens per year, less than 4 percent of the estimated illegal-alien population in the U.S.

Instead, ICE must focus on “civil-enforcement priorities” for apprehension, detention and removal, such as aliens who pose a danger to national security, who have been convicted of crimes, who participate in organized criminal gangs, who have outstanding criminal warrants or who otherwise “pose a risk to public safety.”

However, officials are still expected to detain illegals who have recently crossed the border, violated immigration controls at ports of entry or abused visa and visa waiver programs.

The memo states: “As a general rule, ICE detention resources should be used to support the enforcement priorities noted above or for aliens subject to mandatory detention by law. Absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirements of mandatory detention, field-office directors should not expend detention resources on aliens who are known to be suffering from serious physical or mental illness, or who are disabled, elderly, pregnant or nursing, or demonstrate that they are primary caretakers of children or an infirm person, or whose detention is otherwise not in the public interest.”

To detain those classes of illegals, ICE officers and special agents must obtain special approval from field-office directors.

“Particular care should be given when dealing with lawful permanent residents, juveniles and the immediate family members of U.S. citizens,” the memo adds.

Judicial Watch, a group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, wrote, “Days after the agency charged with immigration enforcement admits it can’t – or won’t – get the job done, the Obama administration sues Arizona for passing a law that ‘unconstitutionally‘ intervenes with the government’s authority to do it.”

Obama’s Justice Department said it was suing the state for allegedly usurping federal authority over protection of national borders. Attorney General Eric Holder has said Arizona’s law interferes with federal immigration responsibilities.

“Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Holder said after filing the lawsuit in Phoenix this week.

He added that “setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility.”

“Not surprisingly, Holder didn’t address the shameful ICE memo that reveals the federal government is in fact ignoring its responsibility when it comes to immigration enforcement,” Judicial Watch noted. “That means more states will probably follow Arizona’s lead in creating their own measures and the feds will spend more tax dollars to fight them.”

As WND recently reported, the Obama administration is also encouraging illegal aliens to call its new hotline and rat out U.S. employers because they “work hard and have the right to be paid fairly.”

WND also reported when an internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement e-mail revealed the agency is looking to change the way illegal aliens are housed in America by giving them a kinder, gentler, “Club Fed” resort-style life of luxury complete with art classes, movie nights, bingo, e-mail, unmonitored phone lines, continental breakfast, hanging plants and fresh carrot sticks.

In May, the Obama administration decided to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S. southern border to counter cross-border drug and weapons trafficking – but the troops are prohibited from enforcing U.S. immigration laws.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.