In recent years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detained and deported record numbers of people from the United States. In fiscal year 2011, ICE deported nearly 400,000 people. Many of them were long-time residents with no serious criminal history, and one out of every five was the parent of a U.S. citizen child. As a result, more than 5,000 American children were sent to foster care in 2011. U.S. citizens, too, have been caught up in the enforcement dragnet.
This explosion in immigration enforcement has been fueled by ICE’s ever-expanding biometric screening program, “Secure Communities”; by ICE’s continuing use of abusive and often warrantless raids; and by ICE’s collaboration with state and local law enforcement through the 287(g) program, joint task forces, and ad hoc alliances.
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These enforcement programs pose a variety of threats to civil liberties: They implicate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the constitutional guarantee of due process, and the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and freedom from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and national origin. ICE’s enforcement practices also impose heavy social costs, tearing American families apart and undermining community trust in the police. And ICE’s continued reliance on local and state law enforcement in places like Arizona, Alabama, and other states that have enacted anti-immigrant laws raises serious concerns about racial profiling and widespread constitutional violations.
The ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project is committed to challenging abusive and discriminatory immigration enforcement practices wherever they occur.