Some undocumented immigrants swept up on minor charges such as fishing without a license won't face federal detention, says the Christian Science Monitor. They'll be released on their own recognizance under an Obama administration directive to a Nashville sheriff who charged 6,000 people with immigration crimes over the past 2-1/2 years. The “release on recognizance” order by Immigration and Customs Enforcement could affect at least some of the 66 U.S. law enforcement jurisdictions that are part of a controversial program which, in essence, deputizes local police to act as de facto immigration agents.
The directive is the result of overcrowding in federal prisons, but also ties into a broader, ongoing review of the program, known as 287(g), and its impact on immigrant communities. “There hasn't been a [policy] change: ICE always puts a priority on criminal aliens who pose a national security threat,” says Matt Chandler, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman. “We are taking a deep, hard look at the program.” Releasing nondangerous detainees could take a bite out of the 287(g) program, experts say. Pre-2006 studies showed that about 85 percent of illegal immigrants released on bond did not show up for their court date.