WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals that the use of "detainers," a key tool that enables Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take custody of alien criminals, has slowly been dismantled by the Obama administration. The final blow came as part of the president's executive action package announced in November.
A detainer is a notification to a state or local agency that ICE seeks custody of an alien currently in their custody. They enable immigration agents to take custody of arrested aliens at the conclusion of their criminal justice proceedings, and upon release from local custody or any sentence imposed for their crimes. Despite their benefit in maintaining public safety in communities throughout the country, the Obama administration has worked to undermine their use, resulting in a tremendous decline in detainers issued. In federal fiscal year 2013, ICE agents and officers filed 212,455 detainers with various police and correctional agencies in the United States, compared to about 160,000 in 2014. This decline in detainers corresponds with a similar decline in ICE interior arrests and deportations, which primarily involve criminals.
"Police agencies nationwide cannot do their job to remove immigrant offenders without immigration detainers," said Mark Metcalf, a former judge on the immigration court in Miami and co-author of the report. "Detainers are an essential tool for enforcement and facilitate federal-local communication that prevents violators from being released back into American streets and neighborhoods."
"But with the new Congress convening," added Dan Cadman, a Center fellow and co-author of the report, "there is now reasonable hope that legislative action will be taken to revive this important public safety tool."
The report is online at http://www.cis.org/disabling-detainers and outlines steps that should be taken to restore this important enforcement tool, including:
- Allow only cooperating jurisdictions to receive federal grant certification for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) and other public safety or homeland security funding;
- Encourage ICE officers to obtain, in advance, arrest warrants for aliens against whom they wish to file detainers whenever practical;
- Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to clarify that compliance by state and local law enforcement with immigration detainers is required, coupled with appropriate sanctions for failure to do so;
- Encourage state laws that require law enforcement agencies to notify federal immigration authorities of release dates of alien criminals in their custody and that prevent local sanctuary policies.
Model language for the recommended changes to federal law are includes in appendices.
The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation's only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.
Contact: Marguerite Telford
[email protected], 202-466-8185
SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies