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ICE Locking Up Hundreds of US Citizens in Recent Years; Chicago Case Suggests ICE Obstruction of Justice

November 18, 2014 (2 min read)

"Data recently released by the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) responsive to my FOIA request shows ICE today still is holding US citizens from days to years prior to their cases being terminated or closed.  Preliminary analysis of a small sample of EOIR data for hearings from January 1, 2011 to September 30, 2014 reveals EOIR adjudicatorsterminated 185 deportation orders and administratively closed an additional 53 cases after adjournments based on claims of US citizenship.  Hundreds more were released based on other forms or relief or because of prosecutorial discretion.  These data were released responsive to my request for cases associated with an adjournment code available for when there is a claim of US citizenship.  Adjudicators hearing these cases may use an adjournment code for US citizenship, but they also may use a more generic code associated with searching for representation.  This means that the cases released are an unknown portion of the total number terminated because of US citizenship.  Also, I can see from my own records that even those whose Record of Proceeding indicates an adjournment because of a claim of US citizenship in this time frame are not showing up in the data released to me.  (In fact, none of the cases with records I possess and know were terminated in this time frame are showing up in the EOIR spreadsheet.)  The EOIR data I am now analyzing, with the assistance of Northwestern student Sam Niiro,  are useful for examining what happens to some of those who happen to have their cases coded this way -- I will be publishing more on this at a later date -- but they tells us nothing about the actual numbers of U.S. citizens ICE has arrested nor their treatment. Nonetheless, one thing we do know: long after John Morton, Director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, issued a memorandum requiring the release of those with probative evidence of their U.S. citizenship, and after his 2013 letter to the New Yorker claiming ICE may in the past have apprehended U.S. citizens but had stopped, ICE is persisting in locking up US citizens absent any legal authority to do so.  I'm releasing this preliminary count now because it contextualizes what ICE agents and attorneys have been doing to Andre Joseph, who on September 16, 2014 wrote me a letter stating he had been arrested by ICE in Chicago after showing up for his Infopass appointment." - Jacqueline Stevens, Nov. 17, 2014.