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Chapter 2 Continued page 3

 

5. Removal Module (EREM) of the ENFORCE:  ENFORCE Removal Module (EREM) is a module of the Enforcement Case Tracking System (ENFORCE) that will support detention and removal operations.  As such, it is integrated with applications that support other enforcement operations, e.g. apprehensions, investigations and intelligence.  ENFORCE will support all enforcement processes and make enforcement data available at all levels of DHS nationwide.  ENFORCE will capture data on individuals, entities, and investigative cases, and support case processing from apprehension through final completion.  ENFORCE will be used to support field personnel by producing required forms and reports.  Finally, ENFORCE will provide intelligence and management information to support decision makers.  EREM goals are to:

 

      Ensure timely, accurate and complete information;

      Obviate redundant data entry across multiple systems;

      Capture information as a part of the operational workflow;

      Produce forms and statistics, and pass information to partners, customers and stakeholders as a by-product of information capture;

      Make structured decisions on the basis of information on hand and business rules; and

      Provide support for optimal decision-making.

 

6.    DRO Reorganization:  In May 2003, the Assistant Secretary for ICE announced an interim organization structure for the bureau.  Within this structure DRO field elements would be geographically realigned to with that of the investigations program and re-subordinated to report directly to HQ DRO, Field Operations.  This reorganization will:

 

      Create a direct line of authority over all DRO elements;

      Develop and practice consistent operations nationwide;

      Develop and apply uniform detention standards;

      Optimize nationwide utilization of bed space and transportation resources; and

      Mirror and fully support the ICE enforcement field structure.

 

 

 

The Director, DRO with direct control over field operations and the program’s detention facilities will be in the best position to influence real changes and the regulation needed to address and resolve historical issues regarding the treatment population, facility and infrastructure conditions, personnel training, and much-needed standardization of policy and procedures.

 

7. Increased Removals:  Moving toward a 100% rate of removal for all removable aliens allows ICE to provide the level of immigration enforcement necessary to keep America secure.  Without this final step in the process, apprehensions made by other DHS programs (such as the Border Patrol, Inspections, and Investigations) will not provide the deterrent or the enforcement tool necessary to secure America’s borders.

 

Enhancements to the DRO removals program will directly benefit DHS enforcement initiatives (such as the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) by completing the final step in the enforcement process.  Only by apprehending and removing those individuals who choose to disregard immigration law, can the overall program be successful.

 

8. National Fleet System:  A comprehensive National Transportation Plan is necessary in order to maximize the use of DRO’s limited air and ground resources while ensuring efficiency.  A contract study will consider all transportation means, current routes, and location of existing facilities and potential sites to maximize a forward-thinking transportation plan.  Meanwhile, an ongoing replacement and enhancement of the DRO vehicle fleet program that provides for adequate types and numbers of vehicles is instrumental in carrying out the ICE and DRO missions.  Based on the needs of DRO, an adequate annual fleet budget should be dedicated to ensure that staff has adequate numbers and appropriate types of vehicles.

 

9. Soft Detention:  Conducting an initiative to provide “softer” (staff secure) detention settings for special populations, such as asylum seekers and family groups, will allow ICE to fulfill the goal of providing appropriate detention conditions.

 

10.         Alternative Methods to Detention:  With limited bed space, there is a need to find alternative detention methods for those aliens who do not pose a threat to society and who are not a serious flight risk.  There is also a need to ensure that aliens released from secure custody comply with their conditions of release and appear in court when required.  In recent years, DRO has developed and implemented several successful non-traditional detention methods to accomplish these objectives.  Current alternatives to detention include housing aliens, appropriately, in halfway houses and family shelters.  In Berks County, PA, DRO has a detention facility designed to detain family groups and provide for their unique needs.  DRO will continue it’s research into available technology and methods in order to create and provide safe, secure and humane alternatives to detention.  Electronic monitoring will also allow for the management of released individuals, thus making bed space available for those aliens posing greater risks of flight or threats to public safety.  With these types of options available, DRO can comply with the law while having the flexibility to manage special cases in an appropriate manner.  Through these and other non-traditional detention methods, DRO has set a target to increase the rate of appearance by ten points each year until it reaches 100 appearance. 

 

11.         Partnerships:

 

a) Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR):  DRO will work to create greater a seamless process expediting the transfer of an alien from the courts to DRO for immediate removal, if that alien has been issued a final order of removal.

 

b) Non-government organizations (NGO)/Community Based Organizations (CBO):  DRO will expand on its community outreach programs and work with NGOs and CBOs  to educate the public on the purpose and mission of DRO detention.  It is important that lawmakers, immigration organizations and the public understand the uniqueness of administrative (DRO) detention vs. the punitive detention administered by the BOP and other custodial agencies.  DRO will continue to execute its Detention Management Control Plan and market its success in that area with respect to maintaining safe, secure, and humane detention facilities.

 

12.         Foreign Governments:  Another critical external factor that influences DRO operations is foreign government policy on repatriation and issuance of travel documents.  Travel document and repatriation policies vary from country to country and within the same country, depending on the government and political environment.  Countries may refuse return or repatriation based on factors such as criminal background, bloodline, place of birth and, at times, as a political statement to the United States.  These policies have created a population of “long-term” detainees that rises detention costs, reduces throughput, and limits bed availability.  Through increased cooperation with the Department of State, the DHS Office of International Affairs, and foreign governments.  DRO will work to remove these barriers and to establish and develop protocols and procedures that will facilitate the proper and timely removal of unauthorized aliens.

 

Threats

 

Among the many fiscal and political challenges DRO faces daily, the SPWG identified a set of challenges that must be overcome to accomplish its mission.  These are challenges that will only be resolved through the implementation and execution of a series of vigorous and directed strategies.  These challenges will not be resolved in the near term; they are issues that have plagued the detention and removal program for many years and will take several years of partnering, cooperation and political support to overcome.  These strategic challenges are:

 

1. Growth in Disparity in Detention Workload:  Growth in both numbers and diversity in the detention population has created demands for varied and appropriate facilities.  In the early 1990s, the majority of ICE detainees were housed in ICE Service Processing Centers (SPCs), private contract facilities, or Bureau of Prisons (BOP) institutions.  Today, the majority of detainees are housed in county and local institutions through inter-governmental service agreements (IGSAs).  Because DRO does not own these facilities, they have less control over mixing criminal vs. non-criminal populations and ensuring compliance with other jail standards that affect detention.  Further exacerbating the problem has been unprecedented slow growth in the detention officer corps over the last 10 years, which is relatively disparate to the growth of the detention population.  For example, the rate of detainees per officer grew from 6.7 to 9.0 from 1995 to 1999.  This shortfall of DRO officers slows case management and removals processes, increases bed days and further heightens the probability of multiple types of significant incidents that could place detainees, employees and the public in danger.

 

2. Unique Population:  DRO detainees are all held for administrative, not criminal law, violations.  They are awaiting the adjudication of their immigration status cases, and are not being held subject to a criminal conviction.  This detained population is inherently unique, requiring specialized knowledge and processes to safely and humanely hold in appropriate facilities and meet all operational demands.  The DRO detained population includes illegal economic migrants, aliens who have committed criminal acts, asylum-seekers (required to be detained by law) or potential terrorists.  These persons can be male, female, unaccompanied juveniles of either gender, or families.  Even the detention by DRO of those with criminal convictions (“criminal aliens”) is strictly administrative in nature, not punitive.  This necessitates different environments, standards, and population management within DRO facilities than that of other federal, state, county, or local correctional facilities.  DRO detainees have unknown lengths of stay in custody because they are dependant on the speed of immigration court hearings, appeal review or removal processing.

 

      DRO must house adults, juveniles, and families.  The separate detention requirements for juveniles and families can be costly.  Juvenile detention, in particular, requires “sight and sound” separation from adults, as well education, recreation, and counseling.

      The co-mingling of criminal and non-criminal detainees is a real concern.  The majority of detainees have criminal histories and separating them from non-criminals is important.  The DRO classification system was set up to identify and place individuals accordingly.

      Cultural and political rivalries can lead to violence between nationalities.  Separating detainees by nationality is often required to keep problems from arising.

      DRO has a large number of detainees with extended lengths of stay.  They can be disruptive and are a special security concern in DRO detention because they have no finite detention period.

 

3. High Detention Throughput and Turnover:  DRO detention facilities have a much higher throughput than other DOJ detention providers.  Because aliens are being held to facilitate their case processing and potential removal, the lengths of stay in DRO detention vary widely.  They are driven by a number of variables including the court’s efficiency in case review and adjudication, the alien’s ability to obtain travel documents and so forth.  This creates a fast-paced detention environment with high throughput.  The special nature of the DRO detained population requires unique detention  procedures and the manpower to process, house, and transport aliens almost continually.  DRO’s detention management standards go well beyond the normal “health and humane treatment” issues addressed in BOP and USMS facilities using the core DOJ standards.  In order to achieve our goals, DRO follows access standards (access to lawyers, phones, consulates, rights presentations, law libraries) that are all geared to facilitate a rapid and fair processing of aliens’ cases.

 

4. Facilities:  The demand for DRO detention has grown much faster than available federal bed space, causing an increased reliance on local jails to house detainees.  Reliance on local jails reduces the number of detainees who are under direct DRO supervision and control.  Utilizing a variety of small local jails increases cost and transportation needs, and places DRO in direct competition for scarce bed space with other federal and local entities.  This factor is particularly critical because DRO has more stringent jail standards than other entities, which limits the number of jails that it can use.

 

5. Immigration Emergencies:  Detention can be affected by unforeseen events occurring in other countries, such as natural disasters (i.e., earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.), war, and economic/political crises.  These events can produce a “shock” to DRO detention.  Such shocks can produce large numbers of illegal aliens, additional detention needs, and the inability to remove aliens from the U.S. back to countries in crisis.  Though these immigration emergencies are relatively short-term in nature, they can have a drastic and enduring impact on available detention space.

 

6. Alien Population:  As of the year 2000, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in conjunction with the Census Bureau, estimated the size of the nation’s illegal resident population at between eight and eleven million residents (in the country for at least a year).  The INS estimated that the illegal immigrant population was rising a net amount of 275,000 per year while the Census Bureau estimated the increase to be 225,000 per year.  The INS estimated in 1998 that about two-fifths of the resident illegal alien population entered legally and then lost their legal status by overstaying their authorized visit and/or by illegally taking jobs.  Ultimately, this constant unaccounted flow into the country adds to the pool of removable aliens.

 

7.  U.S. Policy:  As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, DRO operations have been and continue to be impacted by changes in U.S. immigration and immigration enforcement policy.  Unfortunately, more often than not, these changes are directed in the form of unfunded mandates that force the program to redirect resources from daily operations to current crises, special projects and immediate needs.  DRO will continue to serve the President, the Congress and the American people; however, our mission – “to remove all removable aliens” – grows continually more difficult without a commensurate increase in staff, funding, and infrastructure.

 

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