The Immigration and Custom Enforcement vowed to Congress that a special unit called the National Fugitive Operations Program would focus on apprehending dangerous immigrant fugitives, including terrorism suspects. Instead, the program began to focus on what a new report characterizes as easy targets, according to the New York Times. A vast majority of those arrested had no criminal record, and many had no deportation orders against them, either. The details are to be released in documents today by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.
A series of internal directives, obtained by a professor and students at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law through a Freedom of Information lawsuit and shared with the New York Times, shows the power of administrative memos to significantly alter immigration enforcement policy without any legislative change. Analyzing more than five years of arrest data supplied to the institute last year by Julie Myers, who was then chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the report found that over all, as the program spent a total of $625 million, nearly three-quarters of the 96,000 people it apprehended had no criminal convictions. Without consulting Congress, the report concluded, the program shifted to picking up “the easiest targets, not the most dangerous fugitives.”