Immigration Reform Group: Accountability Needed At Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. - A series of developments in the last few weeks highlight the urgent need for strenuous oversight of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the dire need for comprehensive immigration reform. The following is a statement from Rich Stolz, Campaign Manager of Reform Immigration FOR America.
The Department of Homeland Security must make drastic changes in its policy and personnel. There is a crisis of leadership at the Department. The right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. How else to explain anenforcement policy memo that directly contradicts the President, the rescue of Haitian evacuees only to jail them once they arrive, and an Office of the Inspector General report that harshly criticizes a terribly implemented program. Instead of change, the Obama administration has delivered more of the same failed policies of the Bush administration. In the wake of these revelations their silence is deafening.
Last week, Reform Immigration FOR America immediately called for an investigation to get to the root of the mismanagement and poor implementation of the administration's stated priorities, but these continued revelations require more than an internal review or even a public investigation.
Congress should conduct immediate oversight hearings to ensure accountability at the Department of Homeland Security, shed light on the outrageous actions of the Department's enforcement and detention personnel, and to dismantle the fatally flawed 287(g) program. The developments over the last two weeks have put a spotlight on the ICE's serious credibility problem. Congress must step in to ensure that government is accountable to the public, using resources efficiently, and that it inspires public confidence. ICE does none of these, and must be held accountable.
On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General released a scathing report on the mismanagement of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287 (g) program, which devolves some authority for immigration enforcement to local law enforcement agencies. The same week, the New York Times reported that earthquake victims who had been evacuated from Haiti by U.S. Marines were jailed in immigration detention centers from the first day they arrived here - as if they were being punished instead of rescued. The New York Times also lifted up a disturbing story of a new report on mentally ill detainees getting lost in the detention system, not receiving the mental care they need, and being forced to stand trial even though many of them are not mentally competent. The report indicated that ICE "routinely ignores its discretionary authority to leave such detainees in community settings rather than lock them up, at great expense, in distant jails where they can rapidly deteriorate."The previous week, a Washington Post story reported that immigration authorities had set arbitrary quotas for ICE agents, incentivizing them to deport non-criminal undocumented non-citizens - a position directly at odds with stated White House and Administration goals wisely focusing enforcement efforts primarily on those who have dangerous or violent criminal backgrounds.
All of this underscores the desperate need for comprehensive immigration reform now. Too many communities are paying a heavy price for our broken immigration system and Washington's lack of action on reform.
Martine Apodaca (202) 383-5989