Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Data made available by Transaction Reords Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) Immigration and provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) show that no more than 14 percent of the "detainers" issued by the government in FY 2012 and the first four months of FY 2013 met the agency's stated goal of targeting individuals who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security. In fact, roughly half of the 347,691 individuals subject to an ICE detainer (47.7 percent) had no record of a criminal conviction, not even a minor traffic violation, according to information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
The detainers are notices issued by ICE and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies which ask local, state and federal law enforcement agencies not to release suspected non-citizens held at their facilities, in order to give ICE an opportunity to take them into its custody. Detainers, often called "immigration holds," are a primary tool that ICE uses to apprehend the suspects it is seeking. These results contrast sharply with the multiple press releases and official statements issued by the agency.
"The removal of aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety shall be ICE's highest immigration enforcement priority," claimed former ICE Director John Morton in an agency-wide memo describing the Obama Administration's approach to immigration enforcement announced in June 2010.
Additional detailed analysis of these case-by-case ICE detainer records is now available in the second part of this three-part series.