ICE Scandal of the Week: 400,000 Deportations Goal in FY10

In case you missed this one, it’s a doozy.

The Washington Post reported earlier this week on an internal Feb. 22 memo sent to ICE field directors across the country by James M. Chaparro, head of ICE detention and removal operations, urging staff to step up efforts to deport enough immigrants to meet a quota of 400,000 deportations for the year. (See WaPo story here).

Chaparro talks about the need for a “surge” in enforcement activity in order to meet ICE goals. And why 400,000? Well, basically because it’s more than last year’s 387,000 deportations—and more is always better. (See the memo here).

One can almost imagine ICE directors across the country simultaneously realizing that if they don’t deport enough immigrants soon, this year’s pizza party might be cancelled!

As would be expected, the civil rights community is angry. Together with other advocates, the ACLU met this week with ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton and Chaparro, and Chaparro reportedly apologized for his “tremendous error.” And though Morton denied that individual agents would have to meet deportation quotas, he explained that because ICE received more funding from Congress this year, more deportations were expected.

In response, advocates are pulling few punches. Here’s ACLU Washington Legislative Office Director Laura Murphy:

“It has become clear that ICE’s leadership has failed to control or direct the daily enforcement operations of ICE agents nationwide. This latest disclosure raises yet more doubts about who is really in charge at ICE and whether DHS has the capacity to execute its immigration enforcement priorities including detention reform – a top priority identified by Assistant Secretary Morton.”

All of this goes to say, immigration reform MUST include a serious plan for an overhaul of the immigration detention system. This quota memo is just the tip of the ICEberg.