When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines ICE's ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission. As ICE has repeatedly made clear, when local jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement, they not only betray their duty to protect public safety, but force ICE to be more visible in those areas.
At a recent White House press event, Albence made clear the consequences of uncooperative jurisdictions while also commending the many law enforcement partners who do work with ICE, noting it is much safer for all involved if ICE officers take custody of at-large fugitives in the controlled environment of another law enforcement agency. Approximately 70 percent of ICE arrests happen after ICE is notified that an alien is being released from local jails or state prisons. In fiscal year 2019, ICE lodged more than 160,000 detainers with local law enforcement agencies.
"It is past time to put aside all the political rhetoric and listen to the facts – and the fact is, people are being hurt and victimized every day because of jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE," said Albence.
During the White House media availability Acting Director Albence reiterated that ICE is mandated to uphold the federal immigration laws enacted by Congress, and that the agency will carry out its sworn mission, with or without the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies.
"It is my sincere desire to work with local partners to whatever extent they are willing to work with this agency in what should be our shared goal to ensure public safety," he said.
Albence noted that uncooperative jurisdictions throughout the country should be on notice that as long as criminal offenders are being released, they should get used to seeing a lot more ICE at-large enforcement activity in their communities.
Nationally, approximately 90 percent of all people arrested by ICE during fiscal year 2019 either had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, had illegally re-entered the United States after being previously removed (a federal felony), or were an immigration fugitive subject to a final order of removal.
Despite the challenges these policies create, ICE remains committed to enforcing federal law, and residents should continue to expect a more visible ICE presence in non-cooperative jurisdictions as long as these policies remain in effect. ICE has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests instead of arrests at the jail where enforcement is safer for everyone involved.