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Immigration Law

Rigged by Design: ICE's Detention Algorithm

Aly Panjwani, Inquest, Oct. 29, 2021

"ICE’s policy preferences for carceral inputs meant that “the RCA’s algorithm lost the ability to measure true risk,” turning instead into “a tool of prosecution, pairing detention with enforcement preference regardless of risk.” ... Why did an algorithm that was supposedly designed to limit detention as a final resort continue to detain people in such large percentages? Because as data from across sectors shows, risk assessment tools are built to justify incarceration, not to reduce it, let alone eliminate our reliance on it. As implemented, the RCA reinforces the narrative that immigrants need to be assessed for their dangerousness, and their mere presence in this country criminalized. It lends an air of legitimacy to ICE’s historic mass detention and deportation strategy, all the while pretending that its detention decisions are impartial and based in science. ... [T]he truth is that “risk” has always been a racialized metric to punish Black, Brown, and poor communities, and ICE’s algorithm does just that."