In the midst of President Obama's highly anticipated immigration reform proposal—a leaked version raised GOP concerns for reportedly not tying a pathway to citizenship to new border security measures—a new report found that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained nearly 1 million people between 2008 and 2012. Of those detained, 800 were American citizens, which is illegal for authorities to do.
The report, released by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), gathered data on government activities obtained from ICE and found that local, state or federal authorities were asked to detain almost 1 million people suspected of being undocumented. Of those detained, 800 were American citizens and over 28,000 were legal permanent residents.
This comes on the heels of the Dec. 2012 report, which showed Obama deported a record 1.5 million illegal immigrants during in his first term. Although the president supports a path to citizenship, he won't compromise increased border security.
The new report also found that 77.4% of those detained had no criminal record. Of the remaining 22.6% who did have a criminal record, only 8.6% were Level 1 offenders with some having committed traffic violations or illegal entry, not serious crimes.
“The Obama Administration’s policy of using police as immigration ‘force multipliers’ through programs like Secure Communities has violated civil rights, imperiled public safety, and compounded injustice,” National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) executive director Pablo Alvarado told NBC Latino. Alvarado's organization is calling on the Senate to hold hearings on the use of detainers.
ICE deputy press secretary Gillian Christensen defended the department by stating the TRAC report used data prior to ICE’s Dec. 21, 2012 detainer guidance reform, which restrict ICE detentions for minor traffic violations or misdemeanors and attempt to focus more on serious crimes.
Immigration authorities can, however, still detain someone if they suspect they're in the country illegally with guidelines on how long a person can be held and under what circumstances.
The TRAC report does not have updated information on how many detainers were lifted or how many people were actually deported.