Putting TRAC to Work
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June 8, 2020

Tear Down America's Immigrant Prisons
By Shikha Dalmia

And ICE stonewalls family members when their loved ones fall sick, hiding behind privacy laws. ICE would not even tell the family of a coronavirus-positive detainee at its Otay Mesa facility, one of the worst hit, whether he was alive, let alone what kind of care he was receiving. He was suffering from pulmonary embolism, ulcers, and a hernia yet ICE was refusing to release him. "They treat them like animals," wailed his mom. That particular prisoner, Noe Perez, 41, was awaiting deportation because, evidently, serving a 22-year prison sentence for assault with a firearm as a teenager wasn't enough. That sort of record is far from the norm: As the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University points out, most civil immigrant ICE detainees do not have a single criminal conviction. In March 2020, in fact, 61.2 percent of the detainees had no conviction, not even for a minor petty offense. Even among immigrant detainees who do have a conviction, few are for the sorts of serious crimes that pose a threat to public safety. As of July 2019, just one in 10 detainees—less than 6,000 detainees nationwide—had a serious criminal conviction on record. That's a five-year low.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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