Remember how the Trump administration figured it would try to shame sanctuary cities into cooperating with its detainer requests by publishing the “Declined Detainer Outcome Report” on a weekly basis? Remember how the first one came out and we were all like, “Shut up, Homeland Security”? Well, apparently the administration has realized what a horrible idea this was and has shut down the report—for now, anyway.
An announcement on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website says:
ICE remains committed to publishing the most accurate information available regarding declined detainers across the country and continues to analyze and refine its reporting methodologies. While this analysis is ongoing, the publication of the Declined Detainer Outcome Report (DDOR) will be temporarily suspended.
An announcement on the corrections page of the site seems to offer further explanation:
Due to a data processing error, the Jan. 28 - Feb 03, 2017 Declined Detainer Outcome Report incorrectly attributed issued detainers to Franklin County, Iowa; Franklin County, New York; Franklin County, Pennsylvania; and Montgomery County, Iowa that were in fact issued to agencies outside of the respective county’s jurisdiction in similarly named locations. Additionally, detainers that appeared as being declined by Williamson County, TX and Bastrop County, TX were cases where the individual was transferred to another facility where they were released. Finally, detainers appeared as being declined by Chester County, PA and Richmond County, NC when those detainers were incorrectly issued to those locations. The subjects of those detainers were in different locations
As previously reported by The Root, the Trump administration promised to publicly shame any city or county that did not cooperate with federal immigration authorities by detaining undocumented immigrants who have been arrested or charged with a crime. The Department of Homeland Security made good on that promise March 20 by publishing its first weekly list of local jails and jurisdictions that had not honored the so-called immigrant-detainer requests.
A detainer requests that local law-enforcement agencies notify ICE within 48 hours before a “removable alien” is released from custody and asks that the law-enforcement agency, or LEA, hold the person for up to 48 additional hours in order to allow ICE to assume custody of the individual for “removable purposes.”
According to CNN, the practice was suspended after only three reports were published because, DHS says, it is conducting a review to ensure greater accuracy in its reporting.
Many cities and jurisdictions mentioned in the first reports complained immediately and said that they had been included on the reports in error. CNN reports that although DHS issued corrections, spokesman David Lapan characterized them as “data processing” errors. Some jurisdictions said that they felt bound by court rulings to decline the detainer requests without a warrant.
Immigration advocates also criticized the list for singling out the criminals among undocumented immigrants without acknowledging the contributions of the broader population to their communities.
When asked about the pushback, Lapan did not say that the move was a result of the response from cities and advocates, but did say a “dialogue” had been opened, as was partially the hope of the report.
“There is no time frame associated with that (suspension) because it’s based on a desire to make sure that we have quality data that the information that we’re publishing is as accurate as we can be,” Lapan said. “And so (it will take) as long as it takes to get to that level of comfort that the secretary believes what we have is as good as it can be.”
The Los Angeles Times offers another take:
“There have been some data processing errors, and some other issues,” Lapan told reporters on Tuesday. “We want to make sure we look at this holistically and make sure we are getting this as accurate as possible.” The department still intends to “let the public know which jurisdictions have policies that do not assist ICE in its mission,” he said, adding that he didn’t know when the reports would resume.
Under the Obama administration, a program called Secure Communities enlisted local police as partners in immigration enforcement. But there was a backlash after immigrants were detained and deported after minor violations like traffic tickets. And some court rulings have questioned the legality of police or jails continuing to hold someone without due process.
One immigration rights advocate said the pullback points out the flaws in the new get-tough policy. “One of the fundamental problems with what the attorney general and President Trump are trying to do is to mobilize a massive deportation task force” by shaming and pressuring states and cities, said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. “The fact that the federal government has had to pull back and apologize is a perfect example of how the federal government is overreaching here.”
Another point of contention: Just what does it mean to be a “sanctuary city?” Some cities that won’t honor detainers or detainers still work with ICE, by letting the agency know when someone is about to be released. One of them is Franklin County in south central Pennsylvania, which landed on the “uncooperative” list after ICE said the county jail was not honoring requests to hold five prisoners.
Hmm, sounds like DHS didn’t really have it all together when it decided to go crazy and publish this report in the first place, which is a trait that has become all too typical of the current administration: Act hastily now, then try to spin and fix it later.
No one is arguing that a criminal who poses a real threat to the safety of U.S. citizens should not be detained—indeed, keep those people in jail and let them go through the court system if they are indeed guilty of those crimes—but do not use our criminal-justice system as a backup plan for ICE.
That seems unreasonable and a way to target people who otherwise would be able to continue to be contributing members of American society as they attempt to navigate the confusing labyrinth that is our immigration system.