Few Ice Detainers Target Serious Criminals

Few Ice Detainers Target Serious Criminals

Very timely case-by-case data from 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 (TRAC) 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 at:


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Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sign up for National Day of Action

Sign up to join the National Day of Action Sept 10 and tell Congress you want Immigration Reform

Published in: on September 4, 2013 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Five reasons why immigration reform is likely to pass this year


Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth

Published in: on February 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

House Passes VAWA Bill Putting Battered Immigrants at Greater Risk of Violence

WASHINGTON, DC – Today one branch of Congress voted to undo nearly two decades of bi-partisan commitment to the protection of victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault. In passing H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 (VAWA) (Adams, R-FL), the U.S. House of Representatives aims to eviscerate protections created by VAWA to ensure that battered immigrants are not further exploited by their abusers.

“This is a sad and frightening day for girls who have been raped, spouses who are trapped in abusive relationships, and all other immigrant victims of violence,” said AILA President Eleanor Pelta. “As an attorney, how do I tell a battered woman that she should cooperate with the prosecution of her batterer but that she will likely get deported as a result?” Pelta continued, referring to a particularly harsh provision in H.R. 4970.

The U visa is available for victims of specific crimes who cooperate in the investigation or prosecution of the persons charged with the criminal activity. The provision in H.R. 4970 makes U visa protection merely temporary in almost all cases and takes away the protections a victim can receive by applying for a green card. “When reporting a crime will ultimately end in deportation, victims of crimes will not go to the police. That makes no sense. This bill makes no sense,” Pelta said.

H.R. 4970 also establishes an extremely onerous adjudication process for victims to be granted self-petition under VAWA. “Why would we require two investigators, two interviews, and two different USCIS offices to review the application of an abused spouse? Nowhere else in our immigration law do we require such scrutiny of an applicant,” said Pelta. “This process adds insult to injury for victims of abuse and creates administrative burdens for DHS adjudicators. It’s a waste of government resources.”

“Allegations of widespread fraud in VAWA programs are wholly unfounded,” continued Pelta. “For every isolated incident of fraud, VAWA has saved thousands of lives by protecting victims. Moreover, DHS officials already screen cases with a high level of scrutiny. Adding more interviews or evidentiary checks goes far beyond what we require in any other area of law.”

When Congress enacted VAWA in 1994 and reauthorized it twice in 2000 and 2005, it recognized that the noncitizen status of battered immigrants can make them particularly vulnerable. Abusers often exploit their victims’ undocumented status, leaving the victim afraid to report the abuse to law enforcement and making them fearful of assisting with the prosecution of these crimes. “AILA calls upon both chambers of Congress to enact a bi-partisan bill that retains the vital protections for battered immigrants that have functioned effectively for years. We recommend taking up the Senate’s bill S. 1925 and scrapping the House bill,” said Pelta.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Published in: on May 18, 2012 at 3:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Blind Chinese Dissident Lawyer Has Escaped House Arrest and Is Reportedly Under US Protection

A Blind Chinese Dissident Lawyer Has Escaped House Arrest and Is Reportedly Under Protection of US Embassy in Beijing

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 3:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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VAWA passed the Senate, slightly bruised. Now what?

For folks that are tracking the VAWA reauthorization that just passed the Senate, the provisions of significance related to immigration that stayed in the bill include:
lifting the U visa cap from 10K to 15K the derivative fix for for U …visas unfortunately the new aggravated felony for 3 dui’s.
It will be challenging to try to keep off negative provisions in the House bill so I encourage you all to be in touch with your House members to impress upon them the importance of NOT rolling back protections for immigrant victims. In particular: ask them not to undermine victim safety by narrowing the circumstances in which one can get a U visa certification, or allowing the self petition process to become a tool for abusers by allowing access to application information. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/violence-against-women-act-reauthorized-by-senate/2012/04/26/gIQAJ12mjT_blog.html
Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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More Mexicans Are Returning Home, Fewer Are Staying in the USA


Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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American Immigration Council Challenges BIA Decision Denying Miranda-like Warnings to Immigrants Under Arrest

April 23, 2012
Washington, D.C.—On Friday, the American Immigration Council challenged a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruling that immigrants who are arrested without a warrant do not need to receive certain Miranda-like warnings before being interrogated.

Under federal regulations, immigration officers must advise such noncitizens of the reason for their arrest, of their right to legal representation, and that anything they say may be used against them in a subsequent proceeding. Last August, however, the BIA ruled that these warnings are not required until after questioning has ended and charging papers are filed with an immigration court.

In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Council argued that the BIA misinterpreted both the text and purpose of the regulation.

“As a matter of law and fundamental fairness, people placed under arrest should be advised of their rights before questioning, not after,” said Melissa Crow, Director of the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center. “The BIA’s ruling renders the notifications virtually meaningless and will subject countless immigrants to coercive questioning by federal officers.”

The brief was joined by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the National Immigration Law Center, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project.

The Ninth Circuit case is Miranda Fuentes v. Holder, No. 11-72641. The BIA ruling under challenge is Matter of E-R-M-F- & A-S-M-, 25 I&N Dec. 580 (BIA 2011).

Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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