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Uncovering the Criminal Alien Program

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, has long refused to release tens of thousands of documents about CAP, or the Criminal Alien Program. CAP, a program that screens inmates, recognizes deportable immigrants, and puts them in removal proceedings, is amongst ICE’s largest enforcement programs. CAP functions in all prisons, both state and federal, and in over 300 jails throughout the United States. The release of these documents is significant considering that it plays a role in about 50% of all deportation proceedings.

The program was implemented to help remove the worst criminal offenders from the United States. In practice, however, CAP has been known to target people with minimal or no criminal record and is even rumored to lead to racial profiling. In spite of the huge impact that the program has on immigration enforcement in this country, and its role in deporting hundreds of thousands of people per year, only a limited amount of information about CAP is available to the public.

Motivated by CAP’s lack of transparency, the American Immigration Council (AIC), along with other immigration advocacy organizations, filed a lawsuit requesting the agency to disclose more details about the massive program. The two parties have agreed on a settlement where ICE will reveal a variety of records and the AIC will summarize and analyze them. The records that were previously kept confidential and will now be available to the public include:

  • Information about CAP policies, implementation, and operation such as interviewing procedures and arrest quotas.
  • Information about the relationship between CAP and other of the agencies programs.
  • Information about racial profiling within the implementation of the program; and
  • Reports of all encounters between agency officials and people that have fallen under the program since 2010.

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