Category Archives: Documents and Reports

Secure Communities FOIA Complaint

From the Complaint:

“This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, et seq., for declaratory, injunctive, and other appropriate relief to compel the release of agency records improperly withheld from Plaintiffs, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (“NDLON”), Center for Constitutional Rights (“CCR”), and Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (“the Immigration Justice Clinic” or “the Clinic”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”), by Defendants, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (“ICE”), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”), Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) (collectively “Defendants”).”

To read the full complaint at the CCR webpage, please click here.

The FOIA Request Document

The National Day Laborer Organization (NDLON), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (FOIA), for information pertaining to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) new Secure Communities program. To read the request, go to http://ccrjustice.org/secure-communities.

The program, launched in March 2008, further involves state and local entities in the enforcement of federal immigration law. Secure Communities institutes a mechanism to run fingerprints through various databases when individuals are arrested – even for minor charges or if charges are dismissed. These checks are performed on presumptively innocent arrestees prior to conviction, raising serious doubts as to the program’s true objectives. Although ICE presents Secure Communities as an innocuous information sharing program, it seems designed to function as a dragnet to funnel even more people into the already mismanaged ICE detention and removal system. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Securities Communities has been implemented in at least 95 jurisdictions. However, no regulations have been promulgated and little information is available about the program in the public domain. The limited information that has been released is vague and seems to indicate that ICE is not executing its stated enforcement priorities.

Purpose of the Request

The American public has a strong interest in understanding the role of law enforcement in our communities. Secure Communities raises issues of immediate concern for local communities, including but not limited to: community policing, public safety, racial profiling, and constitutional violations in immigration detention. The requested information will shed light on Secure Communities’ procedures and help assess the program’s impact on states, localities, and immigrant communities. With the program set to expand nationwide by 2013 this information will assist communities in determining whether their local interests are served by the Secure Communities program.

Requested Information

The FOIA request covers materials necessary to provide the public with comprehensive information on the Secure Communities program, including:

  • Policies, Procedures, and Objectives
  • Fiscal Impact
  • Data and Statistical Information
  • Individual Records
  • Communications
  • Secure Communities Assessment Records

POLICIES, PROCEDURES AND OBJECTIVES

Despite ICE’s congressionally sanctioned goal of prioritizing “dangerous criminal aliens,” the Secure Communities program is overly inclusive–and in fact targets individuals who have never been convicted of any crime. The information sought in the “Policies, Procedures, and Objectives” section is critical to explaining the role of Secure Communities in the broader ICE detention and removal system and how it furthers ICE’s mission. Policies and procedures relating to Secure Communities inquiries, responses, detainers, and racial profiling will shed light on the program’s daily operations. Since Secure Communities is not simply an initiative of the federal government but rather one that involves state and local jurisdictions, the content of any agreements between these entities is vital to understanding the impact and limits of the program. Access to training and explanatory materials developed for state and local law enforcement will be helpful to residents assessing whether Secure Communities makes sense for their jurisdiction.

FISCAL IMPACT

In order to best make informed decisions about whether to participate in Secure Communities, local jurisdictions need access to financial records related to the implementation of Secure Communities, including costs, reimbursements, monetary agreements, and financial incentives of participation. Documentation on the broader fiscal impact of Secure Communities, including intergovernmental service agreements, contracts with private entities, and the federal costs of Secure Communities, is important to allow taxpayers and voters to understand the program’s reach and evaluate whether it effectively uses taxpayer dollars.

DATA AND STATISTICAL INFORMATION

Although Secure Communities has been implemented in 95 jurisdictions in at least 11 states, little data or statistical information is publicly available to measure the program’s success or impact on immigrant rights. The program’s effectiveness in prioritizing “dangerous criminal aliens” can be best measured by comparing data and statistical records on the crimes committed by individuals identified by DHS before and since the implementation of Secure Communities. The release of any records related to the number of U.S. citizens wrongly identified, detained, or even removed in conjunction with Secure Communities is essential for understanding the unintended consequences of the program.

INDIVIDUAL RECORDS

Reliable statistical information is essential to properly assess the impact and scope of Secure Communities. However, there may be important data and statistics regarding the processing of individuals identified by the program that ICE is not gathering at all. Therefore, the request seeks records of individuals subjected to Secure Communities in order to assess their treatment throughout the detention and removal process. Review of these records – including warrants, custody determinations, and information on immigration bonds – will permit an independent analysis that will help establish a better understanding of the program’s effect on our communities.

COMMUNICATIONS

The little information that has been released about Secure Communities has been vague, uninformative, and sometimes erroneous. In some cases, documentation that was once publicly available on the DHS website is no longer available. A complete record of these statements, press releases, and speeches, along with any documentation related to Secure Communities’ public relations, is important to clarify ICE’s own vision of the program.

ASSESSMENT RECORDS

Finally, the public should have access to any internal assessments of the program by DHS/ICE, whether on the national or local level, to the extent that such evaluations of the program’s impact and effectiveness are in fact being made.

[blue_box]
Download the full FOIA request in PDF format.
[/blue_box]

ACLU: The Persistence of Racial Profiling in Gwinnett

Published March 2010
The Persistence of Racial Profiling in Gwinnett
Time for Accountability, Transparency, and an End to 287(g)

The most recent stop occurred when Juan was leaving work and an officer from the Gwinnett Sheriff’s Department asked him to pull his car aside. Although Juan asked him up to five times why he was pulled over, the officer never answered him. Rather, the officer demanded his driver’s license and screamed at him for asking questions. Juan showed the officer a valid license and was eventually released without having been issued a citation. However, Juan still does not know why he was detained.

Juan now avoids certain areas of Sugar Hill to avoid harassment by the police.

Introduction

Juan’s story is merely one example of the prevalence of racial profiling in Georgia and the United States, as documented by numerous reports on this problem. About half of the states within the United States have enacted legislation to eradicate racial profiling within their boundaries. Georgia is among those states that have no laws to prohibit racial profiling, as the Georgia General Assembly has rejected repeated attempts to pass such a law. Accordingly, law enforcement personnel throughout Georgia may continue to stop individuals based solely on their race or ethnicity, often without any measure of accountability. This is of particular concern in Gwinnett County, where testimonies affirm that officers disproportionately target people of color for pretextual stops, investigations, and enforcement. The incidents of racial profiling in Gwinnett County have been particularly exacerbated after the implementation of the 287(g) program, which allows local law enforcement to participate in enforcement of federal immigration laws. Both before and after the implementation of this program, the ACLU of Georgia received complaints from drivers, pedestrians, and Gwinnett community members showing that police officers are targeting immigrants and people of color for stops, searches, and interrogations.

[blue_box]
Download the full Gwinnett report in PDF format.
[/blue_box]

Listen to the Podcast that accompanies this report:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

ACLU Cobb Report: Stop 287(g)

Published in October 2009.

Introduction and Executive Summary

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office is one of seventy-seven state and local law enforcement agencies across the country and one of five agencies in Georgia that are involved in a program known as 287(g), made possible through section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The 287(g) program allows local law enforcement representatives to act as immigration officers and participate in enforcement of federal civil immigration laws, per a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE).

Though initially intended as a measure to combat violent crime and other felonies such as gang activity and drug trafficking, 287(g) agreements have come to undermine police work as immigrant communities, fearful of  being deported and leery of local, de facto immigration officers, hesitate to report crime.iv The Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Foundation have both found that participating in 287(g) programs has harmed community policing efforts. In addition, law enforcement agencies that reallocate limited resources towards non-violent crimes, such as driving without a license or lack of insurance, may have scarce means left with which to combat crimes of violence  and other felonies.

The 287(g) program has also encouraged and served as a justification for racial profiling and human rights violations by some local enforcement officers acting as immigration agents. Across the country, there have been several well-documented instances of 287(g)-related racial profiling. Some actions of local law enforcement have even prompted federal investigations and lawsuits. In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was given “the largest and most comprehensive  287(g) contract in the nation.”vii With these added powers, he rounded up large numbers of immigrants, often without probable cause, launching a “criminal illegal alien” crackdown which caused widespread terror in Maricopa County.viii In August 2009, the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit against Arpaio’s office, for picking up a son driving his father to work and detaining them for hours without probable cause. Despite showing the arresting officers proof of their legal presence in the U.S., the father, a legal permanent resident, and the son, a U.S. citizen, were taken to a detention center after being picked up for what they thought was a routine traffic stop. There they were denied  food and water and access to a restroom for several hours.xi In addition, the Justice Department started an investigation against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in March 2009 for possible civil rights violations, including racial profiling and unlawful search and seizure, while exercising immigration enforcement under 287(g).

[blue_box]
Download the full Cobb report in PDF format.
[/blue_box]