Buzzfeed reports that undocumented immigrants with no criminal record continue to be targeted for federal detention despite reforms meant to curb the practice, according to an analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. For years, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had faced growing criticism for targeting undocumented immigrants with no criminal record and asking local police to hold them longer than they normally would for federal pick up. In 2014, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the end of that cooperative system in favor of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which would instead focus on a narrower group of undocumented immigrants considered a priority for deportation, particularly those with a criminal conviction.
Yet Johnson’s directives have had little affect on how ICE field offices seek the so-called detainers. The TRAC analysis found that during the first two months of Fiscal Year 2016, ICE continued to target people who had no criminal record at an even higher rate than before the changes. Only one quarter met the standards for being ICE’s top priority for deportation, or those with serious crime convictions. Compared with 2014, there was an 8% increase in requests to hold people without convictions.