The Criminal Alien Program (CAP) is an expansive immigration-enforcement program that is responsible for the initiation of a large proportion of removal proceedings. While CAP has existed in one form or another for decades, there is still much to be learned about the program, how it is organized, and how it works. What is known is that CAP extends to every area of the country and intersects with most state and local law-enforcement agencies.
A declaration submitted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the American Immigration Council and the Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association has shed additional light on CAP. The declaration provides information about how CAP is currently organized and staffed, and suggests that CAP is not a single program, but a loose-knit group of several different programs operating within ICE. Other than a small number of staff responsible for the administration of CAP at ICE headquarters, there is no dedicated CAP staff. Rather, ICE pulls personnel and resources from across the agency to perform CAP-related functions.
The ICE declaration also explains how CAP functions within prisons and jails. There appears to be little consistency in how CAP cooperates with local law-enforcement agencies in different regions and in how CAP interacts with detainees in different facilities. The declaration paints a picture of an ad hoc set of programs that operate differently across the country and across penal institutions, raising questions about the adequacy of oversight, training, and accountability of the personnel implementing CAP.
This information confirms that there is still much about CAP that remains unknown or unclear. Given the breadth of CAP, the centrality of its role in immigration enforcement, and its large impact on the immigrant community, it is critical that ICE explain how CAP operates.Read more...
“Aggravated felony” is a term of art used to describe a category of offenses carrying particularly harsh immigration consequences for non-citizens convicted of such crimes. Regardless of their immigration status, non-citizens who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony” are prohibited from receiving most forms of relief that would spare them from deportation, including asylum, and from being readmitted to the United States at any time in the future. Read more...
The Secure Communities program, which launched in March 2008, has become a centerpiece of immigration enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Its rapid expansion coupled with serious concerns about the design, goals, and implementation of the program has resulted in a great deal of controversy.
Under Secure Communities, participating jurisdictions submit arrestees’ fingerprints not only to criminal databases, but to immigration databases as well, allowing ICE access to information on individuals held in jails. While state and local law-enforcement officers are not directly enforcing federal immigration law or making arrests for immigration violations, the transmission of fingerprints allows ICE to tap into information about detainees and make determinations about additional ICE enforcement action.
While some may claim that Secure Communities is an improvement over other federal-local partnerships—such as the 287(g) program, which deputizes state and local police officers to enforce immigration laws through agreements with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)DD DD—the Secure Communities program still faces many of the same criticisms. A Task Force appointed by DHS to make recommendations regarding the program concluded that Secure Communities is fundamentally flawed.DD DD While roughly half of the Task Force members favored a suspension or termination of the program and half believed the program must be continued while reforms are being made, all Task Force members agreed that the program must be reformed. Read more...
An oft-repeated claim in the debate over Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, is that tough immigration-enforcement measures are needed to prevent violent crime from engulfing the state. In particular, supporters of SB 1070 often cite kidnappings in the state’s capital, Phoenix, as a reason to crack down on unauthorized immigrants. Arizona politicians such as U.S. Senator John McCain and State Senator Russell Pearce, for instance, have justified their calls for more immigration enforcement by claiming that Phoenix is the “the number two kidnapping capital of the world” after Mexico City. Not only is this claim false, but it ignores two inconvenient facts. First of all, the victims of most kidnappings in Phoenix are unauthorized immigrants. Second, crime rates in Arizona have been falling for years. Cracking down on the unauthorized immigrants upon whom so many kidnappers prey is a classic case of blaming the victim. Moreover, this blame-the-victim posture diverts attention from the fact that the broken U.S. immigration system has created a lucrative market for kidnappers.
The claim that Phoenix is “the number two kidnapping capital of the world” is untrue.Read more...
Arizona politicians who support the state’s sweeping anti-immigrant law (SB 1070) are not particularly fond of facts. For instance, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has made all manner of ludicrous statements about unauthorized immigrants typically carrying drugs, killing cops, and leaving headless bodies in the desert. But the most hypocritical of the anti-immigrant statements made by politicians such as Brewer concern kidnapping. Not only do Brewer and company pretend that kidnappers are lurking behind every corner in Arizona, but they usually neglect to mention that unauthorized immigrants are the primary victims of the kidnappings that do occur. In other words, the kidnapping of unauthorized immigrants is being used as a justification to crack down on unauthorized immigrants. This is a nonsensical policy that attacks the victims rather than the perpetrators of the crime.Read more...
While immigrant communities across the nation endure the long wait for immigration reform, there are roughly 19 million immigrant women and girls currently in the U.S. Immigrant women, particularly the undocumented, are often more vulnerable than their male counterparts, lack the same economic opportunities, and experience exploitation while crossing the border, while working and even in their own homes. In short, immigrant women have become the silent victims of a broken immigration system.
In this IPC report, immigration attorney Kavitha Sreeharsha lays out the economic and social disparities, legal barriers to current immigration law and the many dangers hard-working immigrant women are forced to endure.
The report also explores how women are distinctly harmed by heightened enforcement of immigration laws. Abusers, traffickers, and exploitative employers keep immigrant women from seeking local law-enforcement protection by convincing them that police officers are working in partnership with DHS and will deport victims instead of protecting them. Essentially, these enforcement measures increase the likelihood of abuse and assault against immigrant women by cutting them off from help and giving their perpetrators a powerful tool to silence their victims and escape prosecution.
Ultimately, the author concludes, only through a comprehensive immigration reform package—one that includes a path to legalization that values the contributions immigrant woman make as mothers, wives and workers—can the U.S. reconcile these disparities.
Violent Crimes Are Down in the State’s Three Largest Cities
Many supporters of Arizona’s harsh new anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, continue to insist that the law is, in part, a crime-fighting measure. However, the latest crime statistics released by the FBI confirm what previous data had already indicated: that Arizona is in the midst of a years-long decline in violent crime that pre-dates SB 1070, despite the growing number of unauthorized immigrants in the state during those same years. Specifically, preliminary data released by the FBI on May 24, when compared to data from previous years, reveals that the numbers of violent crimes as a whole, and murders in particular, have been trending downwards for years in Arizona’s three largest cities: Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa. Arizona’s falling crime rates, together with a century’s worth of evidence indicating that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes than the native-born, cast serious doubt on the claims of some SB 1070 supporters that the law is in any way a useful crime-fighting tool.
Supporters of Arizona’s harsh new immigration law claim that it is, in part, a crime-fighting measure. For instance, the bill’s author, Republican State Senator Russell Pearce of Mesa, confidently predicts that the law—which requires police to investigate the immigration status of anyone who appears to be unauthorized—will result in “less crime” and “safer neighborhoods.” However, Sen. Pearce overlooks two salient points: crime rates have already been falling in Arizona for years despite the presence of unauthorized immigrants, and a century’s worth of research has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. While much has been made about kidnappings in Arizona, law-enforcement officials indicate that most of these involve drug smugglers and human smugglers, as well as smuggled immigrants themselves—not the general population of the state. Combating crime related to human smuggling requires more trust between immigrants and the police, not less. Yet the undermining of trust between police and the community is precisely what Arizona’s new law accomplishes. In the final analysis, immigration policy is not an effective means of addressing crime because the vast majority of immigrants are not criminals.
Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years repeatedly and consistently have found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born.
Anti-immigrant activists and politicians are fond of relying upon anecdotes to support their oft-repeated claim that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are dangerous criminals. This mythical claim is usually based on rhetorical sleight of hand in which individual stories of heinous crimes committed by immigrants are presented as “proof” that we must restrict immigration or “get tough” on the undocumented in order to save the lives of U.S. citizens. While these kinds of arguments are emotionally powerful, they are intellectually dishonest. There is no doubt that dangerous criminals must be punished, and that immigrants who are dangerous criminals should not be allowed to enter the United States or should be deported if they already are here. But harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime because—as numerous studies over the past 100 years have shown—immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.