IMMIGRANTS DEPORTED BY ICE IN 2013 WERE A THREAT TO NO ONE
is important to keep in mind an imperative fact; Most immigrants being deported
are not dangerous criminals. Despite claims by U.S Immigration and Custom
Enforcement (ICE) that it prioritizes the apprehension of terrorists, violent
criminals, and gang members, the agency’s own deportation statistics do not bear
this out. Rather, most of the individuals being swept up by ICE and dropped
into the US deportation machine committed relatively minor, non-violent crimes
or have no criminal histories at all.
agency defines three priorities for the apprehension, detention, and
removal of aliens”:
who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety.”
“Recent illegal entrants.”
“Aliens who are fugitives or otherwise obstruct immigration controls.”
certain immigrants without criminal convictions whom ICE believes threaten
national security or public safety. In addition, priority 1 encompasses three
“levels” of criminal convictions, many of which are not violent or
- “Level 1” – convicted of an “aggravated
felony,” or two or more felonies.
- “Level 2” – convicted of a felony, or
three or more misdemeanors.
- “Level 3” – convicted of no more than two
A felony is a crime
punishable by more than one year in prison. A misdemeanor is a crime punishable
by more than five days but not more than one year in prison. The term
“aggravated felony,” which certainly sounds dangerous, was invented by Congress
solely for immigration purposes and need not refer to an offense that is “aggravated”
or a “felony.”
of all deportations did not fall within ICE’s definition of a “Level 1”
- In FY 2013, ICE carried out 368,644
“removals” of immigrants from the United States.”
- One-in-five of these deportees qualified
as “Level 1” as defined by ICE: immigrants convicted of an “aggravated felony”
or at least two felonies.
- One-in-eight deportees fit the definition
of “Level 2” (immigrants convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors), while
just over one-quarter were “Level 3” (convicted of no more than two
- Just under one-in-five of those deported
had been previously removed from the United States. Another one-in-five were
removed for some other, non-criminal immigration violation. And two percent
were immigrants with outstanding removal orders.
removals involved immigrants apprehended near the border
- Ice states that roughly one-third of
deportees in FY 2013 were apprehended in the interior of the country, while
nearly two-thirds were apprehended in the proximity of the border.
- However the ICE distinction between
“border removals” and “interior removals” is not as clear-cut as it sounds.
- ICE states that its border removal
statistics refer to “recent illegal entrants,” defined as individuals
“apprehended while attempting to illicitly enter the US.”
- As a result, “border removals” may include
immigrants who live and work in communities quite some distance from the border
itself, rather than individuals attempting to enter the US.
Fewer than one-in-ten deportees
apprehended near the border fell within ICE’s definition of a “Level 1”
- Only 9% of “border deportees” qualified as
“Level 1” as defined by ICE: immigrants convicted of an “aggravated felony” or
at least two felonies.
- Fewer than one-in-ten border deportees fit
the definition of “Level 2” while more than one quarter were “Level 3”
- More than one-quarter of border deportees
had returned to the US after being removed. And more than one-quarter were
removed for some other, non-criminal immigration violation. One percent were
immigrants with outstanding removal orders.
of deportees apprehended in the interior of the country didn’t fall within
ICE’s definition of a “Level 1” priority.
- Two-in-five “interior deportees” qualified
as “Level 1”
- Fewer than one-in-five interior deportees
fit the definition of “Level 2”
Only Scratching the Surface
As ICE’s own statistics make clear, the agency is
involved primarily in the apprehension and deportation of people who have
committed immigration violations and minor crimes- not terrorist operatives or
violent criminals. Not only is ICE deporting people who aren’t a threat, but
it’s deporting many of them in ways that don’t respect the full range of legal
rights which form the basis of the U.S. criminal justice system.