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ICE Detainers still not effective in targeting serious criminals

ICE Detainers still not effective in targeting serious criminals

A detainer, also referred to as an “immigration hold”, had been a primary tool that ICE uses in apprehending the suspects it sought. With these official notices, ICE asks 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. According to the latest data available from the agency, ICE issued 7,993 detainers during April 2015 which is 30 percent fewer than the 11.355 detainers issued in October 2014 prior to the November 20,2014 announcement of a new DHS policy that restricted D use and discontinuing its Secure Communities (SC) program. Needless to say that detainer usage has been dropping steadily even prior to the last November’s directive. The new DHS policy that announced its goal as, unless an individual “poses a demonstrable risk to national security,” “ICE should only seek transfer of an alien in the custody of state or local laws enforcement” when that person had been “convicted of specifically enumerated [serious] crimes” is sharply in contrast with the present ICE detainer records reporting a much lower number.

Data for April 2015 thus provides little evidence that ICE has begun to limit detainer requests to individuals with serious convictions, let alone to persons convicted of at least some minor offense. If anything, the trend has since moved opposite what might have been expected based on the new directive. Individuals with criminal convictions have become significantly less common among detainers issued during April 2015 than they were during the FY 2012 — FY 2013 period. As TRAC has reported, during that period half of detainers issued were for individuals with a criminal record, not just one third. An even smaller percentage — roughly one in five — had a felony conviction in either period. This seems to stand at odds to what is called for in Secretary Johnson’s directives.

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