WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security organized a press conference to release new numbers about immigration enforcement “successes.” The following is a statement from Brittney Nystrom, Director of Policy and Legal Affairs for theNational Immigration Forum.
“We share the Department of Homeland Security’s goal to promote public safety and to better manage its enforcement resources. Our hope remains that the Department will continue to align their enforcement efforts with the President’s stated goal of focusing on the most dangerous threats to our communities. Data sharing and today’s releases of statistical information are welcomed and encouraged, and we appreciate their efforts at reform. However, trying hard is not good enough. While the numbers released today paint a picture of enforcement that is more targeted than in years past, serious questions and questionable programs remain.
Today’s announcement, however, confirms that the agency still has a long way to go and much to do. The numbers prove that ICE’s targeting remains imprecise and inadequate and it results in the unfair and unnecessary deportations of immigrants.
Additionally, the “Secure Communities” program was a central element of today’s press conference, yet grave questions remain about who is in charge and the integrity of the program’s implementation. For months, the National Immigration Forum has been sounding the alarm about this program, because it erodes the trust that communities place in their local law enforcement agencies and disrupts community policing efforts. Last week, the Forum raised questions about whether Secure Communities is mandatory. These concerns were not alleviated today.
The Department continues to rely on the fatally flawed 287 (g) program as part of their enforcement apparatus. Last April, a scathing Inspector General’s report confirmed our worst fears about this program: ICE does not have the structures in place to evaluate or restrain the actions of rogue enforcement agencies. The Inspector General called attention to the program’s inability to safeguard civil rights and civil liberties, to assess the program’s effectiveness in targeting priority individuals, to properly train officers enrolling in the program, to receive and respond to community input, and to oversee local officers enrolled in the program. In sum, the Inspector General made 33 recommendations for fundamental reforms necessary to make the program accountable and effective in its mission. We continue to believe the 287(g) program has proven itself to be beyond repair and should be terminated.
The Forum notes that the press conference mentioned nothing of the promised reforms to detention priorities. Last year on this date, DHS released a detailed overview of the immigration detention system and put forth serious recommendations for reform. Over the past year, we have been engaged in the reform process and have applauded the agency’s commitment to creating a more appropriate detention system. However, we have waited a year for a number of the planned reforms and are anxious to see incremental progress bloom into meaningful reform.”