Local Jails Holding Fewer Immigrants For Deportation


detention_jailIt is a common practice for federal immigration authorities to ask local city and state jails to hold suspected immigrants for up to 48 hours. But these requests have declined 19 percent in the first four months of the 2013 fiscal year, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse on Thursday. The data shows that between November 2012 and January 2013, months that make up the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year, there was a gradual decline of local jails putting ICE detention holds on immigrants than in previous months.

The drop comes at a time when more and more localities are refusing to cooperate with ICE requests, in part to save funds in overcrowded jails, and in part to foster more positive and less hostile relationships with the immigrants in their communities. Among the major localities that have limited their cooperation with federal immigration authorities are San Francisco, Santa Clara, Cook County, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Building up trust between immigrant populations and local law enforcement is essential to public safety. Studies have shown that some immigrants are too afraid of deportation and as a result, do not report crimes and abuse to police officers.

Places like Connecticut have approved of the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (Trust) Act, which allows local officials to decide when to detain individuals for ICE pick up. Local law enforcement can still ask about an individual’s immigration status.

In 2011, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray prohibited local law enforcement from inquiring about an immigrant’s legal status. However, the District can submit fingerprints to ICE. Between June 2012 to March 2013, 17,972 fingerprint records were submitted to ICE. It averaged to one deportation for every 599 submissions.