Report: ICE overstates effectiveness of policy at heart of SB 4 debate


A new report says that ICE exaggerated how many deportations in 2017 came from the Secure Communities program.

ICE has publicly claimed the program led to 43,300 deportations. Its own data shows the total is only 10,893.

Secure Communities’ detainer requests are central to the fight over a new state law banning “sanctuary cities.”

This article has been updated with comment from ICE.

In the first four months of the Trump administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement greatly overstated the effectiveness of a program in which local law enforcement agencies partner with the federal government to facilitate the deportation of county jail inmates suspected of being unauthorized immigrants, according to a new report analyzing the agency’s data.

On its website, ICE publicly claimed that the Secure Communities program, which President Donald Trump rekindled upon taking office after the Obama administration had scaled it back, led to 43,300 “criminal aliens” being deported from January to March.

ICE’s own data, however, shows that only 10,893 immigrants were deported through the program during that period and that only 4,850 of those had serious criminal records, according to the report by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which analyzes data obtained through regular Freedom of Information Act requests.

ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said in a statement that the report is “deceptive and, once again, presents filtered and augmented data points to incorrectly describe ICE statistics.”

“Secure Communities remains a valuable tool in identifying and arresting criminal aliens as they are encountered by our criminal justice system,” she said.

But after the report came out, ICE edited the page on its website cited in the report by expanding the date range for which the 43,300 total applied, ending at the end of September rather than March.

The report comes as Austin and other Texas cities fight in federal court over a new state law, Senate Bill 4, that bans so-called sanctuary cities that decline to assist with federal immigration enforcement.

READ: Study touts immigrants’ impact as SB 4 challenge heads to appeals court

The law makes it illegal for police departments or sheriff’s offices to decline ICE “detainer” requests, which are the centerpiece of the Secure Communities program. Through detainer requests, federal agents ask local jails to hold inmates suspected of being unauthorized immigrants for an additional 72 hours after they otherwise would have been released to facilitate their potential arrests by ICE officers.

The new law also makes it illegal for police agencies to prohibit officers from inquiring about subjects’ immigration status.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans this week is hearing arguments about the law’s constitutionality in what could become the first “sanctuary cities” case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Secure Communities began under the Bush administration and was replaced under Obama by the Priority Enforcement Program, which limited detainer requests to those accused of serious crimes.

READ: U.S. judge says Austin was targeted for raids because of sheriff’s ‘sanctuary’ policy

Days after taking office, Trump relaunched Secure Communities through an executive order, and his administration has cast federal-local partnerships as an essential tool in its crackdown on illegal immigration.

The administration has also sought to withhold related data that were regularly released during Obama’s tenure. On behalf of ICE, the Justice Department last week sought court permission to withhold details about cases involving detainer requests, making it more difficult to determine whether they are effective enforcement tools at a time when they are taking center stage in the debate over how to control illegal immigration.

Past data shows that, despite the agency’s claims, detainer requests play a small role in ICE’s enforcement operations. The most recent ICE data shows that fewer than 1 percent of deportation cases were facilitated by detainers, according to the Syracuse report.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

What a difference a year makes for 2016 Season for Caring recipients
What a difference a year makes for 2016 Season for Caring recipients

Liliana De La Paz Carrillo says nowadays she feels much more at ease. Last year, the mother of two young sons worried about being able to provide a stable place to live for them. De La Paz Carrillo and her husband, Juan Martínez Domínguez, purchased a mobile home in 2007 and made payments for years before they found out they didn&rsquo...
State trooper who took photo with Snoop Dogg sues DPS officials again
State trooper who took photo with Snoop Dogg sues DPS officials again

A state trooper is suing 18 different Department of Public Safety officials a second time, alleging that they retaliated against him after he sued them the first time and that documents about him were tampered with. Trooper Billy Spears was reprimanded in the spring of 2015 for taking a photo with rapper Snoop Dogg. Spears was...
Police detain two after East Austin burglary reported 
Police detain two after East Austin burglary reported 

Officers have detained two people after a burglary was reported in East Austin, police said. The incident was reported in the 4700 block of Ribbecke Avenue. Officers formed a perimeter around the area before ultimately detaining two people, police said. The investigation is still ongoing, police said.
Man accused of abandoning 6-year-old son in Georgetown hotel room
Man accused of abandoning 6-year-old son in Georgetown hotel room

A man is accused of leaving his 6-year-old son alone in a Georgetown hotel room and not returning, an arrest affidavit said. Gregory Flores, 45, of Georgetown was charged with abandoning or endangering a child, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail. An employee of the Days Inn at 333 North Interstate 35 in Georgetown told police...
H-E-B’s annual Feast of Sharing serves food, fun for free
H-E-B’s annual Feast of Sharing serves food, fun for free

People — some to serve, some to be served — poured into the Palmer Events Center on Tuesday afternoon for H-E-B’s annual Feast of Sharing. Diners were greeted by smiling volunteers and the smells of a Thanksgiving meal, as well as H-E-B’s mascot, H‑E‑Buddy, a giant grocery bag that gave high-fives and hugs to families...
More Stories