MOST IMMIGRANTS DEPORTED BY ICE IN 2013 WERE A THREAT TO NO ONE
It 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.
The agency defines three priorities for the apprehension, detention, and removal of aliens”:
· Priority 1– “Aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety.”
· Priority 2- “Recent illegal entrants.”
· Priority 3- “Aliens who are fugitives or otherwise obstruct immigration controls.”
Priority 1 includes 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 threatening”:
· “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 misdemeanors.
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.”
Four-fifths of all deportations did not fall within ICE’s definition of a “Level 1” priority
· 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 misdemeanors)
· 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.
Most 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.
o ICE states that its border removal statistics refer to “recent illegal entrants,” defined as individuals “apprehended while attempting to illicitly enter the US.”
o 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” priority.
· 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.
Three-fifths 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.