ICE Releases From Detention Are Overdue
Republicans will make a political issue out of anything, even the implementation of existing legal and humane policies concerning undocumented immigrants.
Here is the December, 2012 Detainee Guidance Policy. It limits the use of detainers to individuals who meet the Department's enforcement priorities and restricts the use of detainers against those arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic offenses and other petty crimes. The policy is intended to ensure that available resources are focused on apprehending felons, repeat offenders and other ICE priorities. [More...]
Other policy reform guidelines are here.
Obama has not been lax on removals. Far from it.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, ICE removed approximately 386,443 aliens. Of the total number of aliens removed, 202,169 had a criminal conviction, which is nearly 55 percent of the aliens. In total, 90 percent of the removals in FY 2011 fell within one of ICE’s enforcement priorities. ICE removed more aliens than at any other point in our nation’s history.
Here is the December, 2012 Detainee Policy Guidance and the June, 2011 Enforcement Priorities. ( Here's the training guidance provided to apply the policies.also here. More on the policy here. Here's a summary of the recent policies.
Nor did prosecutorial discretion on custody decisions begin with Obama. Here are some under GW Bush.
From October, 2003 to December, 2012, there were 131 detainee deaths while in ICE custody.
The people being released on supervision (their cases aren't being dismissed, they are merely being allowed to remain at liberty pending its progression through the system) don't warrant detention under ICE policies and priorities.
The mass detention of civil immigration law violators pending removal proceedings benefits no one except the private prison industry.
Almost half of all immigrants detained by the federal government are held in private prisons and the private prison industry has grown over 1,664 percent from 1990 to 2009.
Undocumented presence in the U.S. by itself is not a crime, it is a civil violation. Why should someone be locked up while waiting for a decision? The New York Times reports:
Human Rights First, another advocacy group in New York, which has been pressing for reform of the immigration detention system, said that 96 percent of immigrants enrolled in ICE’s alternatives-to-detention program attended their final hearing in 2011. That figure was up from the year before, in which 93 percent attended their final court hearings, said the group, citing statistics provided by B.I., a private contractor that provides monitoring and supervision services to ICE.
The only disappointing part of the recent release ascribed to budgetary concerns is that it has taken a manufactured crisis over budget cuts to do what should have been done all along: reduce the number of detained low-level civil immigration law violators.
The private prison industry has a powerful lobby. Just last week, the CEO of Corrections Corp of American reassured its investigators that immigration detention will remain strong:
On a call for investors on Thursday, the president and CEO of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country’s largest private prison contractor, said that he’s not concerned about the impact that immigration reform might have on the immigration detention business.
“[T]alking with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], who has been a partner for us for many many years, I think their general belief is there’s always going to be a demand for beds,” said Damon Hininger, in response to a question about Beltway immigration reform talks. It's shameful that Republicans are aligning themselves with it.
CCA has received $200 million in contracts from ICE.
CCA pulled in more than $200 million from ICE contracts in 2011. The company earned about the same amount from contracts with the federal Bureau of Prisons, mostly for facilities used to hold immigrants convicted of federal crimes. Hininger said CCA was waiting to hear a response from the BOP regarding a bid for a new 1600 bed prison that will hold non-citizens.
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