“Sort of True” Still “Good Enuf” for ICE
Newly Disclosed Documents Confirm ICE Detainers are Voluntary, Suggest ICE Misled Public About Costs of Compliance
July 6, 2012—Newly disclosed internal documents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) repeatedly describe immigration detainers as voluntary “requests” and confirm that there is no “procedure to force a[ local law enforcement agency] to honor detainers.” The documents also show that ICE does not reimburse localities for detainer costs and that officials considered providing misleading information to reporters to obscure the lack of federal funding.
The question of local control over immigration detainers has assumed prominence as cities and states address harms caused by ICE’s “Secure Communities” deportation program (http://altopolimigra.com/s-comm-shadow-report/). Today’s disclosure comes before a national week of action to “Restore Trust” by limiting police collaboration with ICE. Over the past year, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Santa Clara County, California have all passed local laws limiting compliance with immigration detainers. The California Senate is currently considering a similar bill at the statewide level, known as the “TRUST Act.” Backers of the laws say they are necessary to repair public trust destroyed by S-Comm.
The documents disclosed today confirm that compliance with immigration detainers is a matter of local discretion. Local authorities are not required to detain people in order to assist ICE deportations. The documents also confirm that the federal government does not reimburse locals for detainer-related cost. But ICE may have suggested otherwise to reporters. In one email, an ICE official considered telling a reporter that a federal funding program covers the cost of detainers despite acknowledging that “[s]aying [the] money is available for detainer cases is a little out of whack.” Another official responded by suggesting the statement would be “sort-of true . . . and that’s good enuf!” [sic].