Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Consolidating ICE's Criminal Alien Program
The 2007 creation by ICE of the Criminal Alien Program (CAP) represented the agency’s determination to consolidate its criminal alien operations as a central focus of its immigration enforcement duties. CAP brought together its Institutional Removal Program and Alien Criminal Apprehension Program under one roof. Unlike the Return to Sender raids or its deputizing local officials in immigration law enforcement, CAP’s aim is to ensure through expanding criminal and immigration databases that all criminal aliens in federal, state, and local custody are remanded to ICE upon their release. ICE had been able to establish methods to track all aliens in federal prisons but had been less successful in ensuring that aliens entering state and local jails were turned over to ICE processing. Its new Detention Enforcement and Processing Offenders by Remote Technology Center (DEPORT) in Chicago was established to monitor all aliens in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities. DEPORT ensures that the roughly 50,000 aliens in BOP prisons – more than one in four federal prisoners – are transferred to ICE once they complete their sentences. Over the past several years, BOP has facilitated this task by setting up five criminal alien prisons run by two private prison companies (Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group) to hold 10,000-plus low-security “criminal alien residents, most of whom have been convicted for drug possession and immigration violations. To secure custody of the criminal aliens in state and local custody, ICE has proceeded on two fronts: training local officials to search for the immigration status of those suspected immigrants it cites or charges through 287 (g) agreements, and encouraging local officials to use the integrated criminal/immigration databases it has established. No one knows how many immigrants are in local and state custody. One measure of this population is the federal program that reimburses state and local governments for holding criminal aliens. According to a GAO report, in 2003 the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) of the Justice Department partially reimbursed the submitted expenses of state and county governments for the incarceration, respectively, of 74,000 and 147,000 criminal aliens. Although a helpful guide to the number of criminal aliens in state and local custody, the SCAAP figures don’t provide a full accounting of the number of immigrants who could potentially be shifted to ICE custody since many government entities don’t keep track of the immigration status of their prisoners or don’t submit reports to the Justice Department because they are only partially compensated for their expenses. ICE is well aware that 287(g) agreements have limited reach since they appeal mostly to rural communities where there is substantial anti-immigrant sentiment. Larger, metropolitan communities are critical of the agreements for many of the problems cited in the GAO and Justice Strategies reports. ICE says it recognizes that “there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution that will apply to every community in the country, so area Special Agents in Charge (SACs) and Field Office Directors (FODs) work closely with their local counterparts to find solutions that will meet their needs.” Next: ICE's Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement
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It's one thing gathering a database of immigrants but what are they planning to with it?
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