Congressman Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) wrote to the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Phoenix Field Office, Enrique Lucero, on November 6, requesting data and policy documents related to the agency’s operations in Arizona. Citing the recent Motel 6 scandal and the deportation of immigrant parents who posed no danger to their communities, the letter states that ICE’s actions in the state have called Lucero’s leadership into question and fed demands for greater transparency regarding the agency’s enforcement priorities.
“We need to get to the bottom of what ICE is doing in Arizona,” said Rep. Gallego. “That’s why I’m demanding some very basic information about the operations of an agency that increasingly appears to be veering of out of control. The people of Arizona have a right to know why their tax dollars are being spent harassing hotel guests and tearing mothers from their children. We deserve immigration authorities who care more about keeping our communities safe than racking up high numbers of arrests and deportations.”
The full text of the letter is below.
“These incidents paint a distinct and disturbing picture of a Field Office more interested in recording a high number of apprehensions than in targeting individuals who pose a genuine threat to public safety.”
Dear Mr. Lucero: I write to express my grave concerns regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations in the Phoenix area under the Trump administration and to request detailed information about these actions, including copies of relevant policy documents.
There is mounting evidence – both in terms of overall statistics and individual cases – that your agents are consistently failing to abide by sensible enforcement priorities. Instead of pursuing individuals who pose the greatest risk to our communities, they appear to be focused more on those immigrants who are the easiest to detain and deport, including longtime residents who check in regularly with ICE. This practice is alarming my constituents, wasting scarce government resources, and tearing law-abiding Arizona families apart. These apprehensions also raise serious questions about your commitment to considering the totality of circumstances in making decisions about individual cases and, ultimately, your leadership of the Phoenix Field Office.
According to data obtained by The Arizona Republic, in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, immigration arrests in our state increased by more than 12 percent. Alarmingly, nearly a third of those apprehended did not have criminal records – a troubling statistic that casts doubt on your office’s commitment to prioritizing public safety. Indeed, among those deported in recent months were parents and breadwinners like Juan Carlos Fomperosa García, Guadalupe García de Rayos and Marco Tulio Coss Ponce – immigrants who posed no danger to our communities and left behind young US citizen children. These cases have contributed to concerns that your agency is increasingly casting an indiscriminate dragnet across Arizona.
Instead of focusing on dangerous criminals, immigration lawyers in Phoenix report that your office is pursuing individuals who were deemed not to be priorities for removal during the Obama administration. I also understand that you have resumed the practice of conducting collateral arrests, detaining undocumented immigrants you happen to encounter who are not the focus of a particular operation.
In addition, there were reports last week in the local media of ICE agents making repeated visits to a Phoenix apartment building and questioning people outside, actions that raise the possibility that your personnel may be actively engaging in racial profiling. Further, in September, Motel 6 confirmed that ICE agents were soliciting lists of guests at Phoenix area hotels and conducting warrantless “knock-and-talk” searches of hotel rooms. Finally, in March, the LA Times reported that ICE has begun executing arrests in the vicinity of courthouses across the country, including in Phoenix – a practice proven to deter immigrants from cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
Collectively, these incidents paint a distinct and disturbing picture of a Field Office more interested in recording a high number of apprehensions than in targeting individuals who pose a genuine threat to public safety. On behalf of the immigrant communities I represent and consistent with my oversight responsibilities, I therefore request the following information:
-The number of individuals apprehended to date in 2017 who are parents of US citizen children and the disposition of their cases;
-The number of individuals apprehended to date in 2017 who were not convicted of a violent crime and the disposition of their cases;
-The number of individuals apprehended to date in 2017 in the vicinity of sensitive locations, specifically schools, hospitals, churches, daycare facilities and courthouses;
-Whether and under what circumstances ICE continues to solicit guest lists at Arizona hotels; and,
-Any guidance or memoranda describing both your enforcement priorities and your policies related to collateral arrests.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.
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