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September 13, 2017

The Trump administration is hiding data about how its crackdown on illegal immigration is going
By Ana Campoy

When undocumented people are jailed for other crimes, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regularly asks police departments and sheriff’s offices to hold them after their sentences end so its agents can pick them up and deport them. For years, the federal government has seen such requests, or “detainers,” as a way to multiply its limited resources for apprehending the millions of people in the country illegally. The Trump White House has been particularly adamant that cities and counties honor detainers. Ignoring them, as many jurisdictions (a.k.a. “sanctuary cities”) do, leads to the release of dangerous criminals who put the American public at risk, federal officials say. But under the Trump administration, ICE has become mysteriously secretive about the ultimate fate of people held under detainers. The Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, which gathers such information through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, says that until January ICE was giving it details about these people, including their criminal history and whether they were ultimately arrested or deported. All TRAC is getting now is the number of detainers requested. The missing data “provide fundamental information about what’s going on in federal enforcement in immigration laws and the role that detainers play in that process,” said Susan Long, TRAC’s director. The data are needed not only to gauge whether the Trump administration is fulfilling its campaign promises to crack down on illegal immigration, but also because even if detainees are undocumented, they have rights. Those include due process and not being held in jail without probable cause.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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