New York, NY (July 23, 2012) – U.S. immigration authorities have been using the New York City criminal justice system to funnel tens of thousands of immigrants into deportation, where 91% of those detained lose their cases, according to a new report released today by the Immigrant Defense Project and Families for Freedom.
The report makes available for the first time statistics to help illuminate detention and deportation practices in New York City. Until today, little data existed on what happens to immigrant New Yorkers who are apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the extent of the agency’s enforcement operations in the City.
“We now have hard evidence that ICE practices are terrorizing our City’s immigrant communities,” said Alisa Wellek, Deputy Director of the Immigrant Defense Project.
Drawing from records that the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, researchers found that between October 2005 and December 2010, ICE apprehended 34,000 New Yorkers, 77% of whom were funneled directly into deportation from the criminal justice system.
“The data is a direct reflection of our members’ experiences here in New York City as a result of the detention to deportation pipeline,” said Abraham Paulos, Executive Director of Families for Freedom.
During the period studied, according to the report, ICE sent almost 20,000 New Yorkers to far-away detention centers and denied nearly all New Yorkers the opportunity for release. Transfers outside the state occurred regardless of whether those detained had U.S. citizen children. The majority of deportation cases of parents resulted in their deportation.
“ICE set a bond of $100,000. It's been a huge strain on my family and myself,” said Dave Pierre, an immigrant whose story is featured in the report. “We don't have that kind of money, especially since I've been locked up in immigrant detention for two years.”
“My father was taken from us when I was ten years old,” said Charlie Acquista, a member of the Families for Freedom whose father was ultimately deported. “No family should suffer what we have, just because their loved one was born in a different country.”
The report was released two months after ICE activated the deportation program known as “Secure Communities” throughout New York. Advocates noted that detention and deportation practices will likely only worsen in the wake of this program.
“Although we are supposed to be a country that values fairness and second chances, the odds are significantly stacked up against immigrants,” said Michelle Fei, Executive Director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “New York City needs to demonstrate leadership by refusing to participate in this deportation regime.”
Families for Freedom is a New York-based multi-ethnic defense network by and for immigrants facing and fighting deportation.
Immigrant Defense Project fights deportation laws and policies that unfairly target immigrants with arrests and convictions.
NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic engages in direct legal representation of immigrants and community organizations in litigation and in immigrant rights campaigns.