DHS-OIG on ICE’s S-COMM

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security released its report on Secure Communities yesterday.  Reactions from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Uncover the Truth campaign point out the report did little or no investigation of central questions about unwarranted detention, racial profiling, and the destruction of families while “inadvertently admit[ing] that ICE has mutated S-Comm into an overreaching dragnet.”

Some interesting details included in the report:

  • The integration of information in IDENT (DHS’ Automated Biometric Identification System) and IAFIS (the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) began “as early as 1998.” That is, even before DHS existed.
  • Between FY2008 and Sept. 30 2011, ICE has been appropriated and has spent around $750 million to identify “more than 692,000 criminal aliens.”
  • Secure Communities “expanded ICE’s ability to identify criminal aliens in areas not previously covered by its other programs” and “earlier in the criminal justice process.”  Specifically, S-COMM expanded ICE’s interest from prisons to jails.  This expansion into jails drove the increase in “the number of fingerprint matches in IDENT.”
  • Finally, a clarification of the difference between Priorities and Crime Levels from the point of view of S-COMM.  Crime Level 1 are those convicted of aggravated felonies or 2+ regular felonies. Crime Level 2 are those convicted of a regular felony, or 3+ misdemeanors. Crime Level 3 are those convicted of misdemeanors. All of these, Crime Levels 1-3, are considered Priority 1 Crimes. Go to page 8 of the report for the taxonomy.

In finding that ICE agents took appropriate action a 97% of the audited cases, the OIG apparently used this articulation of what’s considered appropriate: “ICE’s priority is to remove aliens with criminal convictions. However, ICE considers aliens with Level 1 convictions higher priority than those with Level 2 or 3 convictions.”  There was no discussion of the fact that even with an expanded list of what constitutes Level 1 crimes, only a third of S-COMM matches were Level 1.  There was no discussion of individualized determinations of a person’s future dangerousness.

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