Tag Immigration

Law Expected in NYC Would Hamper Inmate Deportations

The Bloomberg administration has announced it now backs a New York City Council bill that attempts to re-direct city cooperation with federal immigration officials towards “deporting noncitizen criminals who pose a threat to the public, while focusing less on illegal immigrants who do not pose a threat.” Sam Dolknick, In Change, Mayor Backs Obstacle to Deportation, N.Y. Times, Oct. 1, 2011, at A19:

In a significant reversal, the Bloomberg administration said Friday that it would support a City Council bill that would hamper federal authorities’ ability to detain, and eventually deport, foreign-born inmates on Rikers Island who are about to be released.

… Corrections Department officials routinely share lists of foreign-born inmates with immigration authorities, who then take custody of, detain and deport thousands of people who had been charged with misdemeanors and felonies. The arrangement is common across the country.

The bill would not end the practice, known as the criminal detainer program, in New York City. But it would prevent corrections officials from transferring inmates to federal custody, even immigrants in the United States illegally, if prosecutors declined to press charges against them, and if they had no convictions or outstanding warrants, had not previously been ordered deported and did not show up on the terrorist watch list.

As a result, the immigrants would be released if they were not defendants in criminal cases, regardless of whether federal officials wanted them deported.

“The criminal detainer program had become the immigrant dragnet program,” Ms. Quinn said. “We don’t support that.”

NYT: Immigrant Crackdowns Turn Into Big Business

The New York Times has a front-page feature on how the US, Britain and Australia have looked to “a handful of [private] multinational security companies,” primarily GEO Group, Serco and G4S, have turned expanded immigration detention policies in all three countries “into a growing global industry.” Nina Bernstein, Getting Tough On Immigrants To Turn a Profit, N.Y. Times, Sept. 29, 2011, at A1:

Some of the companies are huge — one is among the largest private employers in the world — and they say they are meeting demand faster and less expensively than the public sector could.

But the ballooning of privatized detention has been accompanied by scathing inspection reports, lawsuits and the documentation of widespread abuse and neglect, sometimes lethal. Human rights groups say detention has neither worked as a deterrent nor speeded deportation, as governments contend, and some worry about the creation of a “detention-industrial complex” with a momentum of its own.

… In the United States — with almost 400,000 annual detentions in 2010, up from 280,000 in 2005 — private companies now control nearly half of all detention beds, compared with only 8 percent in state and federal prisons, according to government figures. In Britain, 7 of 11 detention centers and most short-term holding places for immigrants are run by for-profit contractors.

… Companies often say that losing a contract is the ultimate accountability.

“We are acutely aware of our responsibilities and are committed to the humane, fair and decent treatment of all those in our care,” a Serco spokesman said in an e-mail. “We will continue to work with our customers around the world and seek to improve the services we provide for them.”

But lost detention contracts are rare and easily replaced in this fast-growing business. Serco’s $10 billion portfolio includes many other businesses, from air traffic control and visa processing in the United States, to nuclear weapons maintenance, video surveillance and welfare-to-work programs in Britain, where it also operates several prisons and two “immigration removal centers.”

“If one area or territory slows down, we can move where the growth is,” Christopher Hyman, Serco’s chief executive, told investors last year, after reporting a 35 percent increase in profits. This spring, Serco reported a 13 percent profit rise.

Its rival G4S delivers cash to banks on most continents, runs airport security in 80 countries and has 1,500 employees in immigration enforcement in Britain, the Netherlands and the United States, where its services include escorting illegal border-crossers back to Mexico for the Department of Homeland Security.

Colorlines: New York Suspends Participation in Embattled Secure Communities

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he will immediately suspend New York State’s participation in the embattled Secure Communities deportation program. The move is an important victory for immigrant rights groups who say the program undermines due process — and a discomfiting blow to the federal government’s aggressive commitment of mass deportation.

This is real life, not the Onion

Arizona might be giving the anti-immigrant attacks a rest in its legislature, but out on the streets not much has changed. On Tuesday Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced the launch of “Operation Desert Sky,” an airborne version of his controversial crime sweeps. This time he wants to send 30 pilots into the air with M-16s and a .50-caliber machine gun so they can intercept people trying to cross the border.

“We’re going to use our automatic weapons if we have to, and I’m tired of my deputies having to chase these people and I’m sure the air posse will be able to spot these guys running as they do constantly from us,” Arpaio told Phoenix’s KSAZ.

Arpaio said Operation Desert Sky won’t distract normal law enforcement work because it will be staffed by citizen vigilantes and deputies from human smuggling and drug enforcement units.

Last week Arpaio took heat from locals for palling around with action star Steven Seagal and greenlighting an estimated $10,000 in equipment and staff time be used to go investigate a suspected cockfighting ring. Seagal rolled up to the suspect’s home in a tank, and crashed through the front wall of the man’s home.

(via Colorlines)

Illegal Alien Invaders!

Legislative leaders in at least half a dozen states say they will propose bills similar to a controversial law to fight illegal immigration that was adopted by Arizona last spring, even though a federal court has suspended central provisions of that statute.

The efforts, led by Republicans, are part of a wave of state measures coming this year aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

Legislators have also announced measures to limit access to public colleges and other benefits for illegal immigrants and to punish employers who hire them.

Next week, at least five states plan to begin an unusual coordinated effort to cancel automatic United States citizenship for children born in this country to illegal immigrant parents.

[A leader of that effort is Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican state representative from Pennsylvania. At a recent news conference, Mr. Metcalfe said his goal was to eliminate “an anchor baby status, in which an illegal alien invader comes into our country and has a child on our soil that is granted citizenship automatically.”]

DHS Report Criticizes 287(g) Immigration Program

Democracy Now: DHS Report Criticizes 287(g) Immigration Program

A new federal report has criticized the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program, which gives state and local law enforcement agencies authority to enforce immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General found the program does not have adequate safeguards against racial profiling and other civil rights abuses. In addition, the report said local police officers have misused the program by targeting undocumented immigrants who have been arrested for minor offenses. The report states, “ICE cannot be assured that the 287(g) program is meeting its intended purpose, or that resources are being appropriately targeted toward aliens who pose the greatest risk to public safety and the community.” Critics of the program say many immigrants will no longer call the local police for help out of fear they could be arrested and deported. Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “The 287(g) program, as this latest report confirms, all but abandons the constitutional guarantees of fair treatment and due process, and encourages racial and ethnic profiling.”

Last July, the Department of Homeland Security under Janet Napolitano announced it was expanding the 287(g) program:

. . . with 11 new partnerships across the country. The department also announced steps to improve oversight of 287(g), which has been plagued by reports of racial profiling and abuse. . . . But Ms. Napolitano should be deep-sixing this program, not tweaking or widening it.

Don’t just take our word: many responsible police chiefs and sheriffs have stoutly opposed having immigration duties outsourced to them. The Police Foundation, a nonprofit research group, declared in a study in April that the costs of 287(g) outweigh the benefits, not just because it strains budgets, but also because it undermines community policing, which relies heavily on building trust among those the officers serve and protect.

Turning local cops into immigration enforcers makes racial profiling more likely while sending a chill through immigrant neighborhoods, where victims fear and avoid the police and crimes go unsolved for lack of witnesses. As a police chief in the report said: “How can you police a community that will not talk to you?” Editorial, More Immigration Non-Solutions, N.Y. Times, July 13, 2009, at A18.