Stopping Deportations and ICE Holds: Where does your county stand?‏

March 7, 2014

Dear ROPnetters:

You may remember our October 2013 KTA: Tools for pushing back against police-ICE collaboration in small-town Oregon, featuring a great interview with Jorge Hernandez, a leader in two human dignity groups in Newport, Oregon and a member of ROP’s Latino Advisory Board. Jorge talked about immigration detainers, which are requests made by U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the local or state jail to hold someone that is suspected to be undocumented. After this request is made, police will continue to hold people until ICE agents come, rather than releasing them on bail or letting them leave at after they have served their sentence. In Oregon, one of the key ways that ICE deports people is through immigration detainers, also known as ICE holds.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University (TRAC) has just released a new report detailing the number of ICE detainers issued from 2012-2013 by state and county. Check out the data for your county here (scroll down to Oregon, where the county info is located).  If your HDG is interested in working to stop deportations you may find the numbers in this report to be really helpful in exposing ICE’s unjust practices right in your county.

As you’ve probably heard, there is a lot of confusing misinformation out there about ICE/police collaborations and immigration detainers.  For instance, ICE has tried to justify its aggressive deportation program by insisting that they only target people who pose serious threats to public safety or national security for deportation. However, according to the new TRAC report, between 2012 and 2013, “the overwhelming proportion of detainers—about four out of five, 82 percent—were issued for individuals who either had no convictions, or had at most been convicted of a misdemeanor or petty (Level 3) offense.” In fact, only one out of eight (12 percent) of individuals under ICE detainers have been charged with Level 1 offenses, the most serious of convictions according to ICE’s classification system.

Deportations have been at a record high over the last couple of years. Between 2010 and 2014, the Department of Homeland Security has deported more than a million people.  According to new numbers from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), ten thousand people were deported from the Pacific Northwest alone in 2012 and 2013. 

Collaborations between ICE and local law enforcement, now institutionalized nationally through ICE ACCESS programs such as 287(g), are key tools in the implementation of this massive deportation program. (See this guide on ICE collaboration with law enforcement for more information on these programs and how they are implemented in Oregon). As a result of these programs, local and state police forces are often the agents who initiate detention and deportation processes. As people see local police helping to deport people rather than to serve and protect, local law enforcement often become the “bad guys” to those in the immigrant community, creating a breach of trust and a communication barrier.

If you’d like more information on immigration detainers: what they are, why they are important, and how to fight them, see Families for Freedom’s really helpful and extensive toolkit: All in One Guide to Defeating ICE Hold Requests.

Also, check out the talking points on immigration detainers adapted from Families for Freedom’s toolkit below:

-By law, police don’t have to comply with ICE hold requests. They can choose whether to honor them or not. (Which means, we can pressure them to do the right thing, and choose not to comply!)

-If someone is detained under an immigration detainer, it does not mean that they are necessarily deportable, or even that they are undocumented. There is no established standard for determining probable cause to hold someone.

-ICE can issue an immigration detainer request for anyone that is arrested and even suspected to be undocumented, no matter what their charge is. Therefore, even someone who is arrested for a very minor offense who would normally be released quickly can be held and turned over to ICE. Undocumented folks then faces the high risk of month or years in detention or deportation.

-Despite the rhetoric, immigration detainers are not mechanisms for ensuring public safety! According to Families for Freedom: immigration holds: “are not issued to keep people charged with or convicted of certain crimes off the street. Bail determinations by criminal court judges are the criminal justice system’s mechanism for keeping people who may be a flight risk or pose a danger to public safety in jail while their case proceeds. ICE hold requests are purely a tool for ICE to more easily apprehend immigrants.”

In Oregon, Human Dignity Groups are stepping up to educate themselves about local deportations and defend local families. Will your group be the next to take a stand? ROP organizers are here to help you make your plan.

Hope to be hearing from you soon!