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Posts Tagged ‘ICE’

Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention as Bad as Gitmo

In enforcement on March 26, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Yesterday, Amnesty International released its new report “Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA.”

This report documents the horrific conditions of the United States’ immigrant detention centers. It reports that immigrants frequently do not have access to legal council, their cases are denied judicial review, they live in substandard conditions being denied basic hygiene, cleanliness, and medical attention, and on average are held in detention for at least 10 months.

The most horrific part, as Keith Olberman of MSNBC news says, is that no one at DHS or ICE denies any of it.

Check out Keith’s coverage on Amnesty’s new report (coverage begins 1 min 23 sec into the clip):

For more information, go to “Immigration Impact: Guilty Until Proven Innocent in Immigration Detention.”

What Makes Communities Safe? A Review of Local Police Enforcement of Immigration Laws Through the 287(g) Program

In enforcement, legislation on March 5, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Yesterday, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing (a recorded video of the hearing is now available) entitled ““Examining 287(g): The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement in Immigration Law.”

The highlight of the hearing was the release of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report “Immigration Enforcement: Controls over Program Authorizing State and Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws Should be Strengthened” which emphasizes the lack of oversight Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has over its locally deputized officers in the 287(g) program.

The 287(g) program was created by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA, pronouced ir-ah-ir-ah), forming agreements which would allow local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws. But while the program was formed in 1996, no local law enforcement agency had applied for the program until after September 11th. The first program was then finalized in 2002 and today there are 67 287(g) agreement programs operating in 23 states.

The intent of the program was to provide local officers with the power to go after high-level criminals. Given that immigration law is extremely complex–many people consider it a legal equivalent to tax law(!)–delegation of authority was statutorily limited to a select number of officials who underwent a five-week training in immigration law and were subject to ICE’s supervision.

However, the GAO report points out that:

  1. The program lacks key internal controls
  2. The program objectives have not been laid out or documented in program-related materials
  3. Oversight on how (and when) to use immigration authority has been inconsistent
  4. The structure of ICE’s supervision of 287(g) programs has not been developed or defined
  5. Consistent data collection, documentation, and reporting requirements have not been defined
  6. Performance meters used to evaluate program progress are virtually non-existent

And most importantly, over half of the 29 state and local law enforcement agencies reviewed and interviewed by GAO for this report had documented complaints and concerns about 287(g) authority being used to apprehend, detain, and deport immigrants who had committed minor violations like speeding or running traffic lights, and/or to apprehend and detain in a manner consistent with racial profiling.

Among the other witnesses at the hearing were Sheriff Chuck Jenkins from Frederick County, MD and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger of Montgomery County, MD.

Sheriff Jenkins testified that they had no problems with the 287(g) program, arguing that it is “a strong and effective tool in safeguarding our national security at our borders.” He also said that he believes “existing fear or distrust of law enforcement is generally cultural based, as most countries where immigrants originate from do have corrupt governments, corrupt and abusive law enforcement, which is all that they have been exposed to in their lives.”

Meanwhile, Police Chief Manger–who is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Major Cities Chiefs Association(MCCA)–believes that the 287(g) program undermines trust, confidence, and cooperation between police and immigrant communities. He testified that through his experience, he concurs with what the MCCA has written:

“…without assurances that contact with police would not result in purely civil immigration enforcement action, the hard won trust, communication and cooperation from the immigrant community would disappear. Such a divide between the local police and immigrant groups would result in increased crime against immigrants and the broader community, create a class of silent victims and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing future terroristic attacks.”

Police Chief Manger also noted Latinos are disproportionately targets of crime and in urban areas with large Latino or immigrant populations, programs like 287(g) would be destructive to community safety.

A similar report put out by Justice Strategies, a nonprofit research group, said thatcomprehensive immigration reform, which Congress has failed to pass, should be the goal of the Obama administration… The 287(g) program ‘amounts to a local and state bailout of the failed federal immigration enforcement business.'”

Links to media coverage of the GAO report and yesterday’s hearing:

NY Times- Report Questions Immigration Program

Wall Street Journal- Immigrant Busts Faulted

Associated Press- House Panel Scrutinizes Immigration Program

Gannett Washington Bureau- Federal Immigration Officials Chided for Lax Control Over Local Police

*UPDATE* While the President Addressed the Nation

In community impact, enforcement on February 26, 2009 at 5:28 pm

While testifying before Congress yesterday, Secretary Napolitano vowed that she would “get to the bottom” of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in Bellingham, Washington. As the Washington Times reported, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official stated that “the secretary is not happy and this is not her policy.”

In further developments, Whitehouse spokesman Nick Shapiro told the Washington Times that “these raids are not a long term solution.” I was also pleased to hear him say that “The president believes we must respect due process and our best values as we enforce the law. The real answer to our broken immigration system is to fix it. The president has said that we will start the immigration reform debate this year, and this continues to be the plan.”

This is one of the first statements from the Whitehouse signaling that they plan to follow through with their campaign promise of pursuing comprehensive immigration reform during the first year in office.

It appears that Obama does still get it. But we need to make sure that his “getting it” turns into actual policy.

TAKE ACTION TODAY
Ask your Congressperson to contact President Obama and Secretary Napolitano and encourage them to stop the raids.

More Reports Conclude That Enforcement Is “Missing Its Mark”

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 at 4:45 pm

As Immigration Impact recently blogged, new reports by the University of North Carolina/North Carolina ACLU and the Pew Hispanic Center further confirm what we reported last week: immigration enforcement is missing its mark.

The University of North Carolina/North Carolina ACLU report, “The Policies and Politics of Local Immigration Enforcement Laws: 287(g) Program in North Carolina,” analyzes the partnership between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement, a partnership that is known as the 287(g) program.

The 287(g) program is essentially a law that grants local police and sheriffs to act as immigration officers when faced with “dangerous fugitive aliens.” But what long term observation by the UNC/ACLU of NC law team shows is that this program “has instead created a climate of racial profiling and community insecurity.”

Similarly, the new report by the Pew Hispanic Center, “A Rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime” demonstrates that enforcement measures like raids, detention, and deportation are placing a significant burden on the federal court system.

As the report points out, most immigration violations like “unlawful presence” or “entry without inspection” are civil–not criminal–infractions. However, all immigration matters are managed in federal courts.

The result is that the steep increase in immigration enforcement in recent years has flooded the federal court system with individuals who are non-violent and pose absolutely no threat to community safety. In turn, this has taken time and resources away from prosecuting those individuals who are actually criminals.

With all these reports coming out, you’d hope that DHS and the new administration might get the picture: Enforcement-only does not work. It hurts our communities.

Report: ICE Fugitive Operations Program Is “Missing Its Enforcement Mark”

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm

A new report released by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), “Collateral Damage: An Examination of ICE’s Fugitive Operation Programs,” has found that 73% of the 97,000 people arrested under federal fugitive operations program are in fact non-criminal undocumented immigrants.

The National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) was established in 2003 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to locate, apprehend, and remove dangerous fugitive aliens. NFOP’s own website states that it will “give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and community safety, including members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes.”

And no immigration enforcement program has seen such a dramatic increase in funding or staffing than NFOP.

When the program was initiated in 2003, the Fugitive Operations Teams as they’re called received only $9 million in the first fiscal year. By 2008, this number had soared to $218 million.

While NFOP has apprehended an estimated 97,000 people since its inception, the Fugitive Operations program has also been criticized for carrying out some of the most controversial immigration enforcement tactics, including sweeping residential raids and arrests.

MPI’s findings that 73% of the program’s arrests are of non-criminal immigrants, therefore, throw NFOP into an even more controversial light. Key findings include:

* Nearly 3/4 of NFOP’s arrests are NOT dangerous fugitives; rather, they are “status” violators whose civil offense is equal it little more than a traffic violation
* The arrest of dangerous criminals has actually DECREASED throughout the tenure of the National Fugitive Operations Program
* The implementation of a quota-system of NFOP arrests led to an increasing arrest of “ordinary status violators” as they are called by ICE

For me, at least, these findings raise numerous questions about how we should be spending our federal tax dollars and the effectiveness of enforcement only policies.