ICE Boss Says He Suspended Use of Arrest Quotas

Amy Taxin, Forbes, August 17, 2009

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday the agency is no longer using arrest quotas in a program aimed at tracking down immigrants who have ignored court orders to leave the country.

John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE, told reporters that eliminating the quotas in the program was one of the changes he made since taking office this year.

Morton declined to state how widespread the use of quotas was previously or which quotas he suspended. He said the change would not affect the agency’s work to find and arrest immigrants who don’t heed their deportation orders.

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Agency records from ICE’s fugitive operations program show that beginning in 2004, teams were assigned to arrest at least 125 so-called fugitive immigrants. In 2006, each team’s quota was increased to 1,000 fugitive arrests.

Immigrant advocates voiced outrage at the quotas and accused agents of racial profiling to net more arrests. {snip}

ICE’s fugitive operations teams made more than 34,000 arrests during the 2008 fiscal year, more than double the number than two years prior.

Morton, who spoke with reporters on a two-day visit to Southern California, said the teams would increasingly focus on finding immigrants with criminal backgrounds.

Karen Tumlin, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, said a key concern has been agents’ practice of arresting undocumented immigrants with no prior contact with law enforcement while out trying to track down criminals.

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