The decisions come as immigration reform has stalled and the Obama administration is being criticized for deporting mostly people who have not committed a serious crime — despite its stance to focus on dangerous criminals.
Requests that an immigrant be held are sent to local law enforcement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. The agency knows who is being booked into local jails because of an information-sharing partnership between ICE, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local jurisdictions.
The notices request that the person be jailed for an extra two days, excluding weekends and holidays, so that ICE can initiate an investigation and take the person into custody.
But immigrant rights advocates say ICE has made mistakes in the past, incarcerating U.S. citizens, people who have not committed any crimes, or those arrested on misdemeanors.
“They do it in a dragnet manner without first doing the investigation upfront, sometimes before a local district attorney has even signed off on the charges. So it results in the unjust incarceration of a lot of people who are not deportable at all, or who are not found guilty in the criminal process,” said Kate Desormeau, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.