Reforming ICE

Despite assurances it repeatedly gave to Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has not used its increased funding to capture the "most threatening" immigrants who have outstanding deportation orders -- immigrants ICE characterized as criminals or terrorists. ICE instead pursued easier targets.

A vast majority of those arrested had no criminal record, and many had no deportation orders against them, either.

In 2007, only 9 percent of those arrested had criminal records, and 40 percent had no outstanding deportation order. Over 5 years, ICE spent $625 million to arrest 96,000 people, three-quarters of whom had no criminal record.

[more ...]

Peter L. Markowitz, who teaches immigration law at Cardozo and directs its immigration legal clinic, said the memos obtained in its lawsuit reflected the Bush administration’s effort to appear tough on immigration enforcement during the unsuccessful push to pass comprehensive immigration legislation in 2006, and amid rising anger over illegal immigration.

“It looks like what happened here is that the law enforcement strategy was hijacked by the political agenda of the administration,” he said.

Showing good numbers became a higher priority for ICE than following its mission -- and so ICE quietly changed its mission. Although ICE repeatedly told Congress that it was focusing its resources on immigrants with criminal backgrounds, when it changed the rules in 2006 it didn't bother to tell Congress. After all, the truth might have jeopardized the increased funding that ICE enjoyed.

The methods ICE used to make those numbers are suspect:

Michael Wishnie, one of the authors of the report, who teaches law at Yale, said that random arrests of low-level violators in residential raids not only raised a new set of legal and humanitarian issues, including allegations of entering private homes without warrants or consent and separating children from their caretakers, but was “dramatically different from how ICE has sold this program to Congress.” ...

During [a 2007 in New Haven] raid, lawyers at Yale’s immigration law center said, agents who found no one home at an address specified in a deportation order simply knocked on other doors until one opened, pushed their way in, and arrested residents who acknowledged that they lacked legal status.

Janet Napolitano has "ordered a review of the fugitive teams operation." She should order it to return to its original mission and to stop lying to Congress about its results. While she's at it, she should order ICE agents to respect the Fourth Amendment.

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    You mean 60% of them did have outstanding deportation orders? And they basically just said FU to the judge who issued the deportation orders?

    wow, really? (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 04, 2009 at 01:14:32 PM EST
    "It looks like what happened here is that the law enforcement strategy was hijacked by the political agenda of the administration," he said.

    i am........shocked, shocked i tell you! um, no, not really.

    someone might want to do the decent thing (i'm thinking you, TChris), and tell prof. markowitz that's been pretty much the strategy, for almost every agency of the federal gov't, for the past 8 years.

    i'm certain he'd appreciate knowing this.

    geez sarc, you just never ceast to amaze me! dayum, you can add and subtract too!

    You mean 60% of them did have outstanding deportation orders?

    yes, that would be the correct %. however, that still leaves 40% (a material %, in my line of work) that didn't.

    focus sarc, focus guy!