Tag Archives: ICE

Number of crossers released to ICE is down

Pima County jail officials now let U.S. immigration officials know when they are going to release someone with a federal warrant. If ICE wants to pick up that person, it needs to do so in a matter of hours. Corrections officer Alyssa Burgos is above. Photo by Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star archive.

A new federal program designed to deport serious criminals or those who pose a threat to public safety is already having an impact in Pima County and Arizona — even as it is being rolled out nationally.

In the midst of court rulings and a refocus on deporting dangerous criminals in the country illegally as they are released from jail, local Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are detaining fewer newly released inmates overall.

The total number of people released to ICE from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department is down 20 percent from 2012 to 2014, while the average jail population in Pima County has decreased about 7 percent.

Under the Priority Enforcement Program, which Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced in November, instead of immigration officials asking local jails to hold persons of interest for up to 48 hours, they will now request they be notified before their release in most cases.

The change is part of the dismantling of the Secure Communities program, which had the same goal as the new effort but was widely criticized for sweeping up minor offenders or those charged but never convicted of a crime. It was also subject to lawsuits claiming it violated the Fourth Amendment.

“Its very name has become a symbol for general hostility toward the enforcement of our immigration laws,” Johnson wrote in a Nov. 20, 2014, memo announcing the new program.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

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Pregnant border crossers being detained more, longer

A Honduran woman, who is seeking asylum, spent the first few months of her pregnancy in a detention center. She said her pregnancy was affected by her detention because of stress and poor nutrition. Photo by A.E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star.

A clash between immigration enforcement priorities and detention policies means more pregnant women are being detained longer.

That puts women and their babies at greater risk because of the added stress and sometimes inadequate medical care, say groups that work with immigrant detainees. It also boosts the burden to the nation’s taxpayers if babies in detention are born at public expense.

“They have to have nutrition and medical care that tends to their particular pregnancy,” standards that can’t be met in detention, said Laurie Melrood, a local social worker and advocate who has visited with women in detention for years.

Officials with the Florence Project, an Arizona nonprofit that provides free legal services to people in immigration detention, said this year they are serving more pregnant women being held at Eloy Detention Center, about 60 miles northwest of Tucson. Those who are eligible for release are being given high bond amounts, usually exceeding $10,000, Florence Project officials said.

The Eloy center has always held pregnant women, but most of them were released once Immigration and Customs Enforcement knew they were pregnant, Melrood said.

But now recent arrivals are considered a top priority for immigration enforcement and are being detained.

“The trend seems to be to keep them as long as possible,” Melrood said.

As of June 25, ICE said there were 12 pregnant women at Eloy. All of them met the agency’s enforcement priorities, ICE said.

“Decisions for humanitarian release — stemming from various medical conditions, including pregnancy — are based on the merits of each case, the factual information provided to the agency, the potential threat to public health and safety, and the totality of the individual’s circumstances,” Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe, an Arizona ICE spokeswoman, said in a written statement.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Death at Eloy immigration center ruled suicide

There have been 14 deaths at the Eloy Detention Center since 2003. Photo: Arizona Daily Star archive.

The death of a man who died while being held at the immigration detention facility in Eloy was a suicide, an autopsy report shows.

Jose Deniz-Sahagun, a 31-year-old Mexican national, was found unresponsive on May 20, two days after arriving at the facility.

On May 19, Deniz-Sahagun was evaluated for “delusional thoughts and behaviors for which he had to be restrained by correction staff,” the report released Wednesday by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner said.

He was placed on constant watch due that day to suicidal concerns. He was removed from suicide watch May 20 and placed in a single cell during which checks by corrections staff were to occur every 15 minutes, the report said.

Deniz-Sahagun is last seen at his cell door at 4:57 p.m. May 20, the report said. Then, more than 30 minutes later, about 5:33 p.m., emergency responders are seen on a video going into his cell. Efforts to revive Deniz-Sahagun failed.

Deniz-Sahagun had stuffed one of his knee-high orange socks down his throat. A small white plastic handle, possibly from a toothbrush, was inside his stomach, said Dr. Gregory Hess, the chief medical examiner.

Deniz-Sahagun tried to illegally cross the border through Douglas on May 15, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said.

He had been deported twice in the last four years. The most recent deportation was in April 2013, after the Border Patrol arrested him near Calexico, California.

At the time of his death, ICE said, Deniz-Sahagun was awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge on his pending deportation. The agency did not immediately respond to an email about the suicide.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Border crosser surge in Texas crowds Tucson bus station

“One comes here because it’s hard in Guatemala. I left seven children to come here and try to do something,” said Paula Briseno Rodriguez, holding her son Adrian after being left by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Tucson Greyhound bus station. Photo by Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star

The Department of Homeland Security dropped off close to 200 immigrants — mostly women and children — at the Tucson Greyhound station this week, leaving them to find their own way to cities across the country to report to immigration offices there.

While such releases are not new, the number left here at the same time has put a strain on local immigration advocates and has customs and bus line officials working on a plan to accommodate the unexpected influx of travelers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona is processing 400 people, mostly families coming from Central America and Mexico who were apprehended in South Texas and flown here over the weekend, officials said.

To process the surge of crossers from Texas, the Border Patrol is turning to all available resources at its disposal, said Daniel Tirado , Border Patrol spokesman for the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

In the first six months of the fiscal year, Border Patrol agents in that sector detained more people than Tucson did all of last year, with an average of more than 600 apprehensions a day.

In comparison, Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents have detained about 61,000 border crossers during the same period, with 18 percent coming from a place other than Mexico.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Most people deported through Arizona caught at border

Nearly 80 percent of Arizona deportations last fiscal year came from people caught at the border — higher than the 64 percent nationwide, data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show.

While the number of people being deported after being picked up by ICE inside the country is falling, the share of those caught at the border and formally removed continues to rise.

The Washington, D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute attributes the rise to sweeping legislation in 1996 that led to quicker and more formal deportations, more resources and policy changes that represent a new historical reality where more than 400,000 people can get removed in a year.

While the Obama administration is getting close to deporting 2 million people, agents use prosecutorial discretion to prioritize who gets removed.

Immigration authorities in Arizona declined to show up 13 percent of the time that a Department of Public Safety officer called regarding someone they suspected was in the country illegally. They most often cited a manpower shortage, a child in the vehicle or the absence of a criminal record for declining such a call. The DPS data were reviewed by the Arizona Daily Star as part of an investigation of the state’s immigration law, SB 1070.

What this shows is a dichotomy of a system at the border where there’s a near zero tolerance, with immigrants increasingly subject to formal removal and criminal charges, and greater flexibility with priorities in the interior, said a Migration Policy Institute report about deportations released Tuesday.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.