Since 2003, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been sending teams of agents around the country to arrest and deport immigrants they could find with outstanding deportation orders or criminal records. But in 2006, ICE stopped requiring that two-thirds of those people be criminals. At the same time, it created a quota for the teams, saying they must arrest 1,000 people per year each, regardless of their criminal status. There are 104 of these ICE teams.
Yesterday, ICE chief John Morton announcedhe was putting a stop to that, promising to focus on those with actual criminal records and to give teams “targets” rather than hard and fast quotas. “I just don’t think that a law enforcement program should be based on a hard number that must be met,” he said, The Associated Press reports. “I just don’t think that’s a good way to go about it. So we don’t have quotas anymore.” A report bythe Migration Policy Institute released earlier this year showed that nearly three-quarters of the almost 97,000 people arrested by the ICE fugitive teams over the past five years did not have criminal records.
Morton promised yesterday he’ll keep enforcing the law against those who simply had deportation orders out against them, too.
“It is important that the system have integrity,” he said. “I am not signaling in any way that we are not going to enforce the law against noncriminal fugitives.”