Federal immigration officials are issuing far fewer detainer requests, known as immigration holds, to state and local law enforcement agencies seeking immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, NPR reports. The requests that are issued don’t appear to be targeting serious, or convicted, criminals, say data collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. TRAC is an independent research organization based at Syracuse University. Detainer requests dropped 30 percent between October 2014 and April 2015, from 11,355 to 7,993. Last November, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, announced a new policy changing the way detainers are issued.
Under the old Secure Communities program, officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement would ask local police to hold immigrants for up to 48 hours after they were due to be released. Immigration activists argued that these holds” were unconstitutional. Last year, a federal court in Oregon agreed, saying ICE detainer request violate the Fourth Amendment. Johnson unveiled a new Priority Enforcement Program. Fingerprint data collected by state and local authorities at the time of a booking are still sent to federal officials for matching with immigration records. What’s different is that ICE only asks to be notified 48 hours before local law enforcement releases an immigrant from custody.