LatinaLista — A new analysis of who U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been 'detaining' and processing for deportation from 2008 to early 2012 is both a relief and cause for concern.
According to a report issued by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) on immigration enforcement, 77 percent of the 'immigration holds' placed on people in law enforcement custody were individuals who had no criminal record — "either at the time the detainer was issued or subsequently."
A remarkable piece of data to get since TRAC authors report that ICE officials were less than forthcoming when asked to report on the nature of the crime for which the individual had been convicted.
For the remaining 22.6 percent that had a criminal record, only 8.6 percent of the charges were classified as a Level 1 offense.
That's good news. It means that the tired excuse that terrorists or hardened criminals are slinking across our southern border meant to do US citizens harm or threaten our national security is a non-issue for practical purposes.
The bad news is that the emotional damage done to many otherwise innocent families has been extensive.
If 77 percent had no criminal record then their only crime was trying to support their families.
The report gives a snapshot of who the detainees were:
ICE also released information on the citizenship, age, and gender of the subject of each detainer. Not unexpectedly, most (95%) involved males. The median age was 30. There were 5,895 individuals with detainers that were under 18, and 28,489 who were recorded as 65 years of age or older. Most (72.7%) were recorded as Mexican citizens. Others in the top five were citizens of Guatemala (5.3%), Honduras (4.9%), El Salvador (4.3%), and Cuba (1.2%). A total of 2,269 were Canadian citizens.
It's troubling that our country would subject 5,895 youth under the age of 18 to deportation proceedings and almost 29,000 senior citizens. The assumption stands that the majority of the youth were classified as DREAMers and the seniors most probably had lived a good portion of their adult lives in this country.
Yet, what's even more disturbing and gleaned from the data is that some US citizens had their constitutional rights violated because ICE agents mistakenly put them into immigration detention.
According to ICE records, detainers were issued on a total of 834 individuals who were actually U.S. citizens. In addition, detainers were issued on a total of 28,489 legal permanent residents (LPRs). LPRs — or "green card" holders — are individuals who have been officially granted the right to live and work permanently in the United States. ICE issued detainers on these individuals even though for 20,281 of them ICE had no record of any criminal conviction.
It's clear from this data that ICE and the Department of Homeland Security need to have an oversight board to hold them accountable but most importantly ensure their transparency.