By Alan Gomez
April 11, 2017
After just three weeks, the Trump administration has stopped publishing a weekly report designed to publicly shame “sanctuary cities” that fail to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts after local police agencies complained the reports were filled with errors.
Sarah Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said Tuesday that the reports were being “temporarily suspended” so the federal agency could refine its reports to publish “the most accurate information.”
President Trump ordered ICE to publish the reports to shine a light on local agencies that don’t honor its requests to detain suspects for up to 48 hours so federal authorities have time to investigate the detainees’ immigration status. Trump said during his campaign that local agencies were releasing criminals who later committed more crimes.
Local agencies have fought back against the “detainer requests,” based in part on court rulings that have found them illegal. Many now require ICE to produce a judicial order or criminal warrant before they detain suspects.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, said the mistakes in the reports highlight long-standing accountability problems within ICE. He said the shaming strategy is an attempt to “demonize undocumented immigrants” while trying to “bully local jurisdictions into carrying out the Trump administration’s deportation strategy.”
“As ICE comes under increased scrutiny, people will be shocked to find how incompetent, unaccountable and rogue they are,” Sharry said. “I think what the (Trump administration) is doing will go down in history as a really dark chapter in American history.”
Trump ordered the weekly reports in a Jan. 25 executive order that included other measures to enhance immigration enforcement. The order directed the Office of Management and Budget to identify all federal funding that could be withheld from “sanctuary cities.” It ordered the State Department to identify foreign aid sent to countries where undocumented immigrants come from. And it created an office within the Department of Homeland Security to care for victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
The first report, issued March 20, confused three different Franklin counties in Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania. It incorrectly blamed Williamson and Bastrop counties in Texas for refusing ICE detainers even though the suspects in question had been transferred to other jurisdictions. And it falsely accused Chester County, Pa., and Richmond County, N.C., of not complying with detainer requests even though neither county had custody of the suspects in question.
The report also accused 10 local law enforcement agencies of being “non-cooperative” with ICE but did not document a single instance of those agencies refusing a detainer request.
“I don’t know how the hell we made the list,” Montgomery County, Iowa, Sheriff Joe Sampson told The Des Moines Register.
The long list of errors prompted ICE to issue a correction.
Dave Keller, chairman of the Franklin County Commission in Pennsylvania, is a Trump supporter who said the weekly reports could be beneficial to spur local support for federal immigration enforcement. Yet his department was falsely named in the first report as being uncooperative, prompting a call from Keller to complain. ICE apologized and removed Franklin County from the next two reports.
“I think the reports could be effective if folks had confidence that the data being presented was accurate,” Keller said.
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