WASHINGTON, DC: The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) welcomes a new government report reviewing the detention of aliens who have received removal (deportation) orders but whose countries will not accept their return. Many of the shortcomings that the report identifies relate to the treatment of so-called DHS lifers.These findings mirror previous findings by CLINIC. In particular, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) compliance with two U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court held that detainees generally should not be detained for longer than six months while ICE works to remove them from the United States. ICE's own rules require custody reviews to take place at the 90- and 180-day mark, and for detainees to be released under ICE supervision if prompt deportation is not possible. The OIG study found that the required custody decisions were not made in over 6 percent of cases [it reviewed], and were not timely in over 19 percent of cases.
The report, ICE's Compliance With Detention Limits for Aliens With a Final Order of Removal From the United States, echoes several concerns CLINIC has expressed since it began tracking these issues in 2001. For example, the OIG study found that ICE failed to provide detainees with prior notice of custody reviews, information about how they can cooperate in removal efforts, or decisions that clearly explain why supervised release has been denied. OIG attributed many of these failures to inadequate staffing at local ICE Field Office levels, and at the ICE Headquarters level, which leads to insufficient oversight of local custody decisions. To support its evaluation, the OIG report cited an independent CLINIC study published in 2005. It found that the same conditions, such as remote detention facilities, local cooperation, record keeping, staffing, and communication were problems contributing to prolonged detention. The report cited CLINIC's conclusion that ICE was not uniformly complying with [post-order custody review] regulations. CLINIC's Executive Director Donald Kerwin stated, "this report provides an important blueprint for fixing the malfunctioning detention system." He added, "detaining deportees for excessive periods of time has humanitarian repercussions, harms families, and costs taxpayers needlessly." Over 1,000 detainees are held in indefinite detention at an average cost to the taxpayer of $95 per day.
CLINIC's 2005 Report: Systemic Problems Persist In U.S. ICE Custody Reviews for Indefinite Detainees by Kathleen Glynn, Sarah Bronstein, 2005.