The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is suspending a recently adopted practice of reporting cities that don’t cooperate with federal detention efforts after the first few reports were plagued by errors, the Los Angeles Times reports. The new policy, an attempt to pressure cities and counties that refuse to hold people in the country illegally for immigration agents, was a priority for President Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to push back against “sanctuary cities,” possibly by denying them federal funds and using other methods of pressure.
The weekly “declined detainer” reports by ICE were supposed to be a first step, focusing attention on jurisdictions that were releasing immigrants from jail or after arrest. The plan didn’t go smoothly. ICE mixed up names, confusing Franklin counties in Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania, said David Lapan of the Department of Homeland Security. In other cases, the detainees had already been picked up by ICE, or had never been released in the first place. The reports were suspended after two weeks. “There have been some data processing errors, and some other issues,” Lapan said. “We want to make sure we look at this holistically and make sure we are getting this as accurate as possible.” The department still intends to “let the public know which jurisdictions have policies that do not assist ICE in its mission,” he said. Under the Obama administration, a program called Secure Communities enlisted local police as partners in immigration enforcement. There was a backlash after immigrants were detained and deported after minor violations like traffic tickets.