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July 17, 2020Los Angeles, CA, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

Immigration detainers lodged in Los Angeles on aliens arrested for crimes

Convicted criminal aliens pose danger to communities as detainers are not honored

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers issue detainers and requests for notification to law enforcement agencies to provide notice of its intent to assume custody of an individual detained in federal, state or local custody.

These detainers are lodged on aliens arrested on criminal charges for whom ICE maintains probable cause to believe are amenable to removal from the United States.

“The detainer asks other law enforcement agencies to notify ICE in advance of an alien’s release, and to maintain custody of that alien for a brief period of time so that our officers can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting upon release from that agency’s custody,” said ICE’s ERO Los Angeles Field Office Director Dave Marin. “When a law enforcement agency fails to honor these immigration detainers and releases serious criminal offenders back onto the streets, it undermines our (ICE’s) ability to protect public safety and carry out our national security mission.”

As of January 2020, Los Angeles ERO has lodged more than 20,600 detainers. Law enforcement agencies honoring these detainers play a critical role in ensuring criminals are not released back into communities to potentially reoffend.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration Detainer Notice of Action Form I-247A, outlines specific language to both the law enforcement agency and detainee, requesting that DHS be notified as early as possible, ideally 48-hours prior to the alien’s release from custody, to allow a reasonable amount of time for ICE to respond and take custody of the alien within the confines of a secure environment.

“Current sanctuary policies have made our ability to work with partner agencies in lodging detainers very challenging, which of course impacts overall how we carry out our targeted enforcement operations,” Marin said. “Prior to these laws, we had officers working in county jails, identifying criminal aliens and taking immediate custody of them once local law enforcement had completed their case. Our inability to maintain a physical presence in these facilities only increases the overall danger to affected communities and immigration officers.”

Of ICE’s ERO administrative arrests in fiscal year 2019, ERO arrested approximately 143,000 aliens; more than 123,000 of those arrested, or 86 percent, consisted of aliens with criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. Of the 123,128 aliens arrested by ERO in FY19 with criminal convictions or pending criminal charges, the criminal history for the group represented 489,063 total criminal convictions and pending charges as of the date of arrest, which equates to an average of four criminal arrests/convictions per alien, highlighting the recidivist nature of the aliens that ICE apprehends.

“One of our most important mandates is public safety and the security of the American public; our broad authority allows us to identify and remove dangerous, often recidivist, criminals engaged in crimes like murder, predatory sexual offenses, drug trafficking, alien smuggling, and a number of other crimes that have profound negative impact on our society,” Marin said.

“I must emphasize that our agents are not out there conducting random raids or sweeps, as many advocates might have the public believe; everything we do is a targeted enforcement action. Our officers identify targets based off a biometric (fingerprint) match. This information allows our officers to identify those who have potentially been ordered removed by an immigration judge and have not left the country; persons who have been removed and have unlawfully returned; those with criminal records making them amenable to removal; and individuals on the terrorist watchlist – none of this is arbitrary or has anything to do with color, race, nationality, ethnicity, country of origin, etc.”

And while the agency does not statistically track data related to transfers, due in large part to the fact that ICE is not notified when a detainer is not honored by a law enforcement agency, ICE issued more than 165,000 detainers with crimes ranging from assault, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, and sexual misconduct in FY19. According to officials, sanctuary policy challenges force ICE to prioritize its targeted enforcement operations against the most significant threats using limited resources.

“Here in Los Angeles, roughly 90 percent of the individuals we encounter and apprehend have a criminal record – that is about 9 out of 10,” Marin said. “The one remaining usually falls in the category of having been ordered removed by a federal immigration judge under EOIR (the Executive Office for Immigration Review), but not yet left or returned after removal without authorization. Again, we enforce federal laws, including removal orders, and the safest place to take criminals into custody is within the confines and secure environment of another law enforcement agency.”

Updated: 10/14/2020