ICE Targeting Non-Violent Undocumented Immigrants

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A shocking new report reveals that only 10 percent of ICE detainers met the agency’s goal of targeting individuals who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security. 

According to a report released by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), when traffic violations (excluding DWI and DUI) and marijuana possession are put aside, two-thirds of individuals subject to an ICE detainer had no record of a conviction.

A detainer, commonly referred to as an “immigration hold”, refers to ICE’s power to have federal, state, and local authorities detain suspected non-citizens until ICE can take them into custody. 

Detainers are classified by their "RC Level Threat." TRAC found that fewer than 1 in 4 deportees were classified as a “Level 1 Risk", a level restricted to non-citizens who are convicted of aggravated felonies or two or more felonies.

In an agency-wide memo sent in June 2010, ICE Director John T. Morton said, “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.” 

The report, however, notes the discrepency between Morton's comments and ongoing ICE practice. It says, "The stark difference between the agency’s rhetoric and its actual performance is startling.”

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About this author

Cristina Arreola, Associate Editor

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cristina Mari Arreola earned her degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University before moving to New YorkNew York. In her downtime, you can usually find her scouring the city for the most authentic Mexican food (still looking...), scaring herself silly watching horror movies, or frantically reading a novel from her (extremely lengthy) reading list. . You can follow her on Twitter at @c_arreola

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