The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General published a report which stated the United States’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency despite implementing an anti-terrorist protocol, failed to track nearly 2.4 million undocumented immigrants including known or suspected terrorists.
A statement from the government report said the ICE “may be missing opportunities to identify, take into custody, communicate status of and make decisions on those aliens who pose the highest risk to national security and public safety.”
According to the report, many of the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) offices had no access to the Department of Homeland Security’s networks which is used to share information with other agencies. ERO agents reportedly had to commute for hours to other locations just to gain access to the network.
Another factor was the refusal of some local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the ICE. These jurisdictions which were referred to as “sanctuary cities” in the report prevented the ERO agents from screening high-risk immigrants.
The report disclosed that from January 2014 to May 2017, a total of 675 sanctuary cities refused 29,269 requests from ICE to detain high-risk immigrants shortly after they were released from jail.
Homeland Security stated in its report that the lack of cooperation from these jurisdictions seriously compromised ICE operations and placed the country at risk:
“When a state or local law enforcement agency declines to transfer custody of a removable criminal alien to ICE, the released alien may put the public and ERO personnel at risk and requires significantly more resources to bring the individual into ICE custody.”
The ICE was quoted in the report as blaming the screening failures on agents who were not familiar with the anti-terrorist policy.
Mia Steinle who works as an investigator for Project on Government Oversight, a non-partisan government watchdog organization believes the report from Homeland Security proves the incompetence of the ICE
“The ICE has consistently proven that it does not have the appropriate oversight in place to ensure either of the safety of the American public or the well-being of immigrant detainees.
“In just the past few months, the Office of the Inspector General has uncovered countless instances of sloppy record-keeping, inadequate oversight and poor management of the immigrant detention system.”
In view of the government report, the ICE has agreed to conduct an internal audit to determine if the agency needs more resources and personnel to improve intelligence collection. ICE has also vowed to be more consistent in implementing its screening procedures on high-risk immigrants.