Politics

Despite Reformed Laws, Study Shows Government Officials Still Targeting Non-Threatening Immigrants

| by Will Hagle

Immigration reform rolled out by the Obama Administration last year that called for immigration detainers to only focus on “the most dangerous foreign nationals” has done little to change the practices of many detainer employees, a new study reports. 

The report was carried out by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, also known as TRAC. The study found that, since Obama’s new legislation has been enacted “fewer than 10 percent of detainers actually targeted people who are considered a threat to public safety and national security,” according to Fox News Latino. Out of all those detained, 38% had a criminal conviction on their record. Still, the list of criminal convictions included nonviolent crimes such as minor traffic violations or marijuana possession. If those two violations are excluded, the number of detainees with criminal records drops to 26%. 

According to the report, the new legislation has not only not had an effect on detainers, but it’s actually produced the results opposite that which it intended. “In fact, comparing agency data from both before and after the new guidelines were issued reveals that fewer — not more — individuals on whom detainers were placed have had any record of criminal activity, let alone serious criminal conduct,” the report claims. 

The Obama administration’s efforts to reform the country’s immigration law have been met with consistent roadblocks from the conservative-dominated House of Representatives, an unsurprising fact, given that opposition between the two parties has led to the current government shutdown. Republicans and others that oppose the immigration reform claim that a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is an unwanted “amnesty” program. 

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Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, issued a statement that criticized the Obama administration’s efforts in immigration reform, citing the lack of practical results from detainers as well as a lack of  adequate response from the President. 

“The Obama Administration’s approach to immigration has spelled disaster for immigrant communities. No matter what talking points the President repeats, the data shows complete disregard for priorities, an expansion of the deportation dragnet, and more innocent people being ripped from their families. The memos and guidelines issued from ICE leadership have served as little more than political smokescreens for the public and for ICE agents in district offices ... [Obama] will be remembered as the Deporter-in-Chief and not the great reformer he has promised to be,” Alvarado stated.

If it’s new, stricter legislation that undocumented immigrants need in order to reform the current practices by detainers, the Obama administration will likely have a difficult time making anything useful happen, especially given the current situation in Congress.