The new Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University made public today key documents demonstrating that the Bush administration’ immigration home raid strategy was a law enforcement failure The papers – including both new data and previously secret memoranda – reveal that the raids, which terrorized immigrant communities across the country, were shockingly ineffective at capturing their purported targets.
The lawsuit, filed by the Immigration Justice Clinic under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in a Manhattan federal court, sought records pertaining to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s (ICE) sweeping campaign of home raids. ICE released this critical data after a settlement was reached just hours after President Obama issued his “Presidential Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government” on his first day in office. The lawsuit sought to verify what many immigrant families and local law enforcement personnel already knew – that ICE’s campaign of raiding homes in the pre-dawn hours with little to no accountability has resulted in destruction and pain for hard working immigrant communities. In addition, the data reveals that while the human costs of ICE’s home raid strategy were painfully high, the law enforcement gains were shockingly low.
“ICE’s home raids have primarily led to the arrests of individuals who posed no risk to society and have come at a significant cost to immigrant families and to ICE’s own enforcement priorities,” explained Professor Peter L. Markowitz, Director of Cardozo’s Immigration Justice Clinic, which represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “ICE has created tremendous bureaucratic incentives for fugitive operation teams to abandon focus on high priority targets in favor of a shotgun approach of undisciplined home raids.”
In early 2006, facing political pressure to look tough on immigration enforcement, ICE increased each FOT’s annual arrest quota from 125 arrests per year to 1000 arrests per year. Overnight, these same seven person teams were expected to become eight times more productive. These memoranda also reveal that FOTs were encouraged to abandon any purported focus on “high priority targets,” as ICE eliminated the requirement that 75% of the arrests needed to be “criminal aliens,” and, despite ICE’s previous denials, allowed FOTs to count any arrest at all, even arrests of merely undocumented individuals.
The data released by ICE paints a vivid picture of the inefficiencies inherent in the Bush immigration raid strategy. Since the enactment of the newly released 2006 policy memoranda, the number of “criminal aliens” arrested per FOT has dropped a staggering 62% and FOTs have become 23% less efficient at capturing “fugitives.”
This information comes to us through NALACC (National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities) MPI Report available at www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/NFOP_Feb09.pdf