Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Escalating Jailhouse Immigration Enforcement: A Report on Detainers Issued by ICE Against Persons held by Local Law Enforcement Agencies in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina from 2016-2018
Earlier this year, Priya Sreenivasan and Azadeh Shahshahani of Project South, together with Jason A. Cade of the University of Georgia School of Law issued a new report, titled "Escalating Jailhouse Immigration Enforcement: A Report on Detainers Issued by ICE Against Persons held by Local Law Enforcement Agencies in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina from 2016-2018." Numerous Georgia Law students also contributed to researching and writing the report while participating in the Community Health Law Partnership clinic at the University of Georgia School of Law.
The report analyzes data data from two Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by Project South and the University of Georgia School of Law’s Community HeLP Clinic.
Here are some of the report's findings, as highlighted in the Executive Summary:
This report analyzes the 35,916 ICE detainers that were issued between Fiscal years 2016 and 2018 in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, as well as the state bills and local policies that foster cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement in these states. Between FY 2016 and FY 2018, the number of detainers issued by ICE doubled in North Carolina, nearly tripled in South Carolina, and nearly quadrupled in Georgia. At least half of these detainers (18,099) resulted in people being jailed in immigration detention facilities and the majority of detainers were issued to persons originating from Latin American countries. Almost 93% of ICE detainers were issued to local law enforcement agencies such as county jails, detention centers, or sheriff's departments, at a total cost of millions of dollars per year.
Local law enforcement agencies routinely jailed immigrants on behalf of ICE even in the absence of formal agreements to collaborate in place. Only three of the top ten local law enforcement agencies with the highest rates of detainer requests across the three states had active 287(g) agreements during the time period of the report. On average, individuals with detainers were held in local jails for a significant period of time, ranging from two weeks to one month. Individuals who were eventually transferred to ICE detention centers were held in jail for longer periods of time, ranging from an average of 19 days to 43 days. The impact of these ICE detainers on local communities was severe. Thousands of immigrants were detained as a direct result of these collaborations. According to the government’s own data, at least 189 of those for whom ICE issued detainers turned out to be not legally subject to removal proceedings, due to U.S. citizenship or other lawful immigration status. Further, the data also show that at least three individuals died while incarcerated subject to a detainer during the time period of this study.
Human rights abuses in ICE detention centers are well documented, and investigative reports have increasingly revealed poor health conditions, abuse, and other problems within local jails. As the data in this report demonstrate, ICE’s collaboration with local law enforcement has also had a costly and detrimental impact on communities in these states. For these reasons, this report closes with specific recommendations, including calls to end local law enforcement agencies’ involvement in federal immigration enforcement and to eliminate immigrant detention.