The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) delivered a letter today to recently appointed Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Patrick Lechleitner, urging him to take advantage of his leadership position to address human rights and due process violations within the agency’s policy and practice. Mr. Lechleitner is stepping into a federal agency that has not had a Senate-confirmed leader since the Obama administration.
The letter states: “For our clients, the decisions made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and attorneys are often life-changing. An ICE officer’s decision to release a person from detention on recognizance, for example, might mean that a mother is reunited with her children. An ICE attorney’s decision to join in a motion to reopen, as another example, might allow a young person a second chance to rebuild their life in the United States after involvement in the criminal legal system. Perhaps most drastically, an officer’s decision to initiate removal proceedings may result in a deportation that permanently separates a father from their child or spouse.”
The letter details five issues of high concern to NIJC clients and their communities, along with policy recommendations for each:
- Due process violations caused by the Family Expedited Removal Management program
- Persistent substandard conditions, human rights, and due process concerns in ICE detention
- Entanglement between federal immigration and local law enforcement, including the 287(g) program
- ICE’s reliance on unreliable and prejudicial evidence in taking enforcement actions
- Barriers to return for deported people with a claim to protection in the United States