During a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Thursday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) revealed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had issued only 96,000 immigration detainers for criminal aliens to local and state law enforcement agencies in 2015, down 66 percent from the roughly 282,000 detainers ICE had issued in 2012.
Thomas Homan, ICE ‘s Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations, blamed the recent decrease in ICE detainers on President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.
“In the past, detainers would hold somebody for 48 hours if they fell within our priorities. After executive actions, we require now a conviction to drop a detainer on them,” Homan explained.
In other words, ICE was able in the past to place a detainer on an illegal alien who was arrested for a crime, whether they’d been convicted or not, simply because the person was in the country illegally. Now, the agency must wait until a judge determines that a crime separate from being in the United States unlawfully has been committed before ICE can request them for immigration proceedings.
An immigration detainer is a request from ICE to a local or state law enforcement agency asking that the agency not release a criminal alien from custody until ICE is able to come pick the person up and place them in immigration proceedings. Once a person has served their time in custody or would otherwise be scheduled for release, ICE has 48 hours to pick the alien up before they must be set free by law.
Homan added that “some jurisdictions will not accept detainers, but they will accept notifications, a 247N. That’s simply…we ask them to notify us before that alien leaves their custody, which can happen 24/7 so it requires immediate response.”
In other words, some localities won’t hold a person after their scheduled release date to afford ICE time to pick the person up. Instead, they’ll simply offer to give the agency a heads up – subject, of course, to the local authorities’ discretion – before a criminal alien is set free.
Which probably helps a heck of a lot.
Even those detainers that are issued – clearly far fewer than in past years – are not always honored. So-called sanctuary cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have become infamous for ignoring ICE detainers and releasing criminal illegal aliens back into American communities rather than hand them over for immigration proceedings.
Watch Homan's remarks below: