WASHINGTON - In a continuation of a disturbing trend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Dec. 21 that in the past fiscal year, it deported nearly 410,000 immigrants, a record number. As with previous years, almost half of those deported had no criminal records.
ICE also announced new guidance on detainers that is a step in the right direction; however, ACLU immigration expert say it does not go far enough to resolve rampant civil rights abuses.
"Detention and deportation should be the very last resort," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "We must move away from policies that waste taxpayer money on the detention and deportation of immigrants who pose no threat.
"The detention guidance does not fix the fundamental problem with ICE detainers," said Kate Desormeau, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Unlike any other area of law enforcement, ICE uses detainers to lock someone up based solely on an individual officer's suspicion, without having a judge sign off. That flies in the face of our most basic constitutional rights. As a result, ICE detainers have caused serious civil rights abuses, including the illegal detention of U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants based on sloppy investigation or prejudice."
Photo: Signs in Spanish that say, "Don't separate our families," and "We are not criminals," during an immigrant rights rally in front of the Capitol in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin/AP