Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Immigrant Detention: Can ICE Meet its Legal Imperatives and Case Management Responsibilities"

Migration Policy Institute issued a new report, "Immigrant Detention: Can ICE Meet its Legal Imperatives and Case Management Responsibilities", analyzes select data for all 32,000 detainees held in ICE custody on one night in January 2009 and examines the sufficiency of ICE's database and case tracking system. The question has taken on new urgency in light of the ICE announcement in August that it plans to revamp its detention system to reduce its reliance on local jails and private prisons, address longstanding concerns related to conditions of confinement and centralize management.

Some highlights of the report's analysis of the ICE data on detainees in the system on January 25, 2009:

* Of the 32,000 immigrants in ICE's custody, 18,690 had pending removal cases (in other words, they had not received final orders of removal).
* The average length of detention for the 18,690 pre-removal order detainees was 81 days. Seventy-four percent had been detained for less than 90 days, 13 percent for between 90 days and six months, 10 percent for between six months and one year, and 3 percent for more than one year.
* A high percentage of ICE detainees (58 percent) do not have criminal records, even though mandatory detention laws largely apply to criminal aliens; ICE includes persons who have committed immigration-related offenses in its criminal alien nomenclature, and ICE's expanding Secure Communities program places large numbers of arrested and imprisoned noncitizens into removal proceedings.
* ICE held detainees in 286 facilities, which were concentrated in southern and U.S.-Mexico border states; 68 percent of the total were held in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
* Nearly 70 percent of detainees were held in state and local prisons pursuant to Intergovernmental Service Agreements, 17 percent in contract detention facilities, 10 percent in service processing centers, 2 percent in federal prisons and 3 percent in Office of Refugee Resettlement facilities, medical centers, shelters, and other alternative or "soft" detention settings.

The report makes a range of recommendations, among them that ICE:

* Undertake an intensive analysis of its information systems, particularly its detention database and case tracking system, in light of its legal mandates, management imperatives and detention transformation initiative.
* Comprehensively review its contracts for detention space, with the goal of maximizing the cost savings realized by expanding alternative-to-detention programs.
* Capture information that would allow the agency to adhere to its national standards, including information on when and how the agency has complied with the standards. For standards related to detainee transfers, ICE should record information on the U.S. residence of detainees, their family members and legal counsel.
* Collect all information related to detainee medical needs, interventions, treatment and causes of death.

To read the full report, click here.

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