Illegal immigrants detained in a stepped-up enforcement effort in Virginia stay in the U.S. far longer than they should because of a detention and deportation system beset by waste and dysfunction, reports the Washington Post. Detainees are often held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for weeks, if not months, after they have consented to deportation. Federal officials regularly misplace files or fail to bring detainees to court hearings, resulting in needless additional jail time at taxpayer expense.
During recent court proceedings before an immigration judge, in more than half the cases the government was missing detainee files, did not know where detainees were being held, or failed to bring a detainee to a facility with proper videoconferencing equipment. In one instance, the government lost track of a nursing mother who had been separated from her newborn, thinking she was in a Hampton Roads jail; she was sitting in court a few feet away and wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. In another case, Judge Wayne Iskra grew so frustrated over a detainee’s missing file that he berated the government prosecutor in court, asking her, “How would you like to sit in jail for two more weeks?” Said Iskra: “The system is broken!” ICE officials reject claims that their operations are strained, saying the agency has made “significant strides.”