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Criminal Alien Program (CAP)
CAP is a massive, nationwide enforcement program administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that identifies removable noncitizens and places them into removal proceedings. CAP is currently active in all state and federal prisons, as well as more than 300 local jails throughout the country. The program is implicated in approximately half of all removal proceedings. Although CAP supposedly focuses on the worst criminal offenders, the program appears to target individuals with little or no criminal history and to incentivize pretextual stops and racial profiling. Despite CAP's role in facilitating the removal of hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, and despite serving as ICE's “bedrock” enforcement initiative, very little information about CAP is available to the public.
Seeking greater transparency, the American Immigration Council (AIC), in collaboration with the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of Yale Law School and the Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), brought a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the release of records that would shed light on the program. Pursuant to a court-approved settlement, ICE must begin producing responsive, non-exempt records by late October 2013.
The LAC and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of Yale Law School Sue to Compel Release of CAP Records
American Immigration Council, et al., v. DHS, No. 12-00355 (D. Conn. filed Mar. 8, 2012).
Co-Plaintiffs American Immigration Council and AILA’s Connecticut chapter initially sought records related to CAP through a FOIA request to ICE in December 2011. When ICE refused to release records responsive to the request, Plaintiffs filed suit under FOIA for declaratory and injunctive relief to compel the disclosure and release of agency records improperly withheld by DHS and its component ICE. Plaintiffs also challenged Defendant’s failure to grant Plaintiffs’ public interest fee waiver request and asked the court to award costs, reasonable attorneys’ fees and any other appropriate relief.
On July 13, 2012, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment with an accompanying declaration by Jamison Matuszewski, the Unit Chief for CAP within Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) at ICE. In response, Plaintiffs filed an opposition to Defendant’s motion and a cross-motion to defer consideration of Defendant’s summary judgment motion and for limited discovery. Plaintiffs argued discovery was necessary in light of Defendant’s conclusory and largely unsupported claim that DHS lacks the functional capacity “to identify the individuals encountered by CAP and retrieve their records” and to provide a small, randomized sample of individual records without undue burden. Plaintiffs requested discovery in the form of a deposition of Jamison Matuszewski, the Unit Chief for the Criminal Alien Program (CAP). Defendant opposed the discovery request and submitted a reply to Plaintiffs’ opposition to summary judgment with a supplemental declaration by Jamison Matuszewski. In early December, 2012, the court granted Plaintiffs’ motion. The deposition took place on February 1, 2013. On February 5, 2013, the court found Defendant’s motion for summary judgment moot and ordered Defendant to re-file its motion for summary judgment upon completion of the extended discovery.
In conjunction with the preparation of Jamison Matuszewski’s supplemental declaration, Defendant conducted a two-hour search of ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). The search resulted in 473 responsive pages, which were released to Plaintiffs on October 19, 2012. 303 pages were released in full. The responsive portions of the remaining pages were withheld pursuant to FOIA exemptions 5, 6, 7(C) and (E).
Fact Sheet: The Criminal Alien Program: Immigration Enforcement in Prisons and Jails. This fact sheet, issued August 1, 2013, provides an overview of what currently is known about the CAP program, including valuable insights gained from a deposition of Jamison Matuszewski, the Unit Chief for CAP.
IPC Report: The Criminal Alien Program: Immigration Enforcement in Travis County, Texas. This 2010 report concludes that not only did local law enforcement in Travis County, Texas not understand the purpose or scope of CAP, but that CAP led to racial profiling because the "jail status check" and other aspects of the program encourage some officers to arrest people who look or sound foreign, in order to process them through the CAP and facilitate deportation. The report raises concerns that CAP is not realizing its intended goal – to target dangerous criminals, but is creating a system where local police enforce immigration law by detaining immigrants who have committed only misdemeanors or immigration status-related offences.
ICE Homepage: Criminal Alien Program. This page provides ICE’s explanation of the different components of CAP.
The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity at University of California, Berkeley Law School, The C.A.P. Effect: Racial Profiling in the ICE Criminal Alien Program. This policy brief analyzed arrest data pursuant to an ICE-local partnership in Irving, Texas and found that ICE is not following Congress’ mandate to focus resources on the deportation of immigrants with serious criminal histories. The analysis also revealed strong evidence to support claims that Irving police engaged in racial profiling in order to filter individuals through the CAP screening system.
CAP Advocacy Guide. This guide, issued by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Washington Defenders Association, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, explains how information about the CAP program revealed through the lawsuit can be used to address the impact of the program at the local level.