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Enforcement and Removal
02/25/2020

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DHS OIG: When agencies cooperate, ICE successfully identifies, arrests criminal aliens through ICE Criminal Alien Program

WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the duties of the Director Matthew T. Albence thanked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) today for their report on ICE’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP), which concluded when law enforcement agencies cooperate, ICE is successful at identifying and arresting criminal aliens.

“This report further confirms what we have said for years: our communities are safer when law enforcement works together to take criminal aliens off the streets. It is safer and more effective for ICE to take custody of criminal aliens in the secure confines of a local jail, as opposed to pursuing them while they are at-large,” said Albence. “These efforts require significantly more time and resources, and worst of all, while we’re still out looking for these criminals, many of these criminals commit further crimes, further victimizing the very communities these uncooperative jurisdictions are purporting to protect.”

The OIG report, titled U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Criminal Alien Program Faces Challenges, was released Feb. 18 and found that because ICE relies on cooperation from other law enforcement agencies, the agency faces challenges arresting aliens in uncooperative jurisdictions and that “ICE’s inability to detain aliens identified through CAP contributes to increased risk those aliens will commit more crimes.”

ICE concurred with the report’s recommendations, and findings. “Arresting aliens in law enforcement custody is more efficient and safer for ICE officers, detainees, and the public than apprehending them in homes, workplaces, or in public,” the report states. “However, state and local jurisdictions across the United States vary significantly on how they cooperate with ICE in performance of the CAP mission.”

Under ICE’s CAP program, when people are arrested and fingerprinted by law enforcement officers, those jurisdictions typically send the biographic information to the FBI to check for outstanding warrants and other information. FBI databases are automatically cross referenced with DHS databases, resulting in notification to ICE about a potentially removable alien in local police custody.

When that match occurs, an ICE officer reviews the criminal and immigration history of the person in custody. If the ICE officer determines that there is probable cause to make an arrest for immigration violations, the ICE officer then lodges a detainer and an administrative warrant to request that the person be detained rather than released into the community. This allows ICE to assume custody when the person is released from the jail or prison. At that point, it’s up to the local law enforcement agency to cooperate with the immigration detainer.

As the OIG report notes, various jurisdictions do not cooperate or limit cooperation, and “the number of uncooperative jurisdictions is growing, which challenges the CAP mission.”

As a result of the lack of cooperation, ICE has shifted resources, especially in uncooperative jurisdictions, to conduct more at-large arrests in the community. 

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 02/25/2020