Saturday, November 22, 2008

Essex County Detainee's Escape Leads To Detainee-Shifting

William Kleinknecht reported in The Star-Ledger on November 2, 2008 about 120 Detainees Moved To Essex County Jail.

Essex County wanted to house more detainees at $105 per detainee per day to obtain $5 million in annual payments from the federal government, a plan that was taken over the protests of the corrections officers union. At that payment rate, it would be 130 detainees held every day over a year to get $5 million in annual payments.

Detaining immigrants is a big-money project. People looking at the immigration area need to look very closely at how the big-money influence is affecting sound public policy. People are making lots of profit out of detaining more immigrants.

At Delaney Hall in Newark, the report is that a detainee escaped on October 25 and was found in Kentucky around 4 days later. County officials have moved 120 immigration detainees out of that facility and moved them to the Essex County Jail.

The issue also highlights how difficult it is for the immigrant detainees to defend their rights in immigration court. Right now, judges do not believe immigration detainees have any right to appointed counsel. It's hard enough to explain the complexities of immigration law -- imagine doing that if you are detained and somehow trying to gather all the proof required in your case. Now imagine that the authorities can move you anytime they feel like it (such as if some other detainee escapes) -- how is a detainee going to prepare a case and gather all the facts and witnesses without appointed counsel?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Private Immigration Detention Center in WA Hired Guards Without Background Checks

According to Gene Johnson of the Associated Press, Immigration Lockup Hired 92 Guards Without Vetting (published in the Seattle Times).

From November 2005 until early 2008, staff at the Northwest Detention Center, a detention center paid by ICE and privately run by the for-profit GEO Group Inc. in the Tacoma, Washington area, hired 92 guards without conducting background checks. The detention center had a system where the contractor had sole responsibility to review applicants.

At the center run by GEO Group, prospective guards are supposed to have a preliminary background check done, which is followed up after they start work with a more thorough check. The Seattle Times reports that according to documents related to a guilty plea, Sylvia Wong was the administrator in charge of hiring at the center and when ICE officials questioned her in March 2008 about allowing guards to work without finishing the background checks, she made a false statement about whether she had manufactured forms that stated the guards had finished the checks.

It took ICE over two years to discover the lapse in the hiring process. After background checks were done, some of the guards were fired.

With publicity increasing about allegations of inadequate medical care in immigration detention facilities run by contractors, the breach of policies to ensure that qualified applicants are hired as guards raises a question about whether alleged inadequate medical care might be a product of poor procedures, a lack of control by the contractors, and insufficient oversight by ICE.

ICE Increased Deportation Efforts Mainly Capture Immigrants With No Criminal Record

Several newspapers are reporting on statistics released by ICE for their federal fiscal year that ran from October 2007 to September 2008.

The newspapers report that ICE's statistics show that the number of immigrants they arrested in New Jersey and deported rose from 3,339 to 4,194 (a 25% increase) and that of those, around 70% did not have any criminal history. (Nationally, there was a 20% increase to 349,000.)

In New England, around 72% of those deported had no criminal history and Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition told the Boston Globe that the high percentage of those with no criminal history shows that ICE is apprehending more ordinary workers than criminals so the resources are not going to where they are supposed to be going.

ICE officials noted that it had more than 100 futigive operations teams around the country, with the number of teams in NJ increasing from four to five (accounting for 2,210 arrests, up from 2,079). Nationally, the number of fugitive operations teams has increased from 18 in September 2005 to 50 in September 2006 to 75 in September 2007 to over 100 in September 2008.