ICE Denies Data to University Clearinghouse

By David North on October 6, 2010

ICE has denied a range of data on immigration enforcement – data previously available – to a Syracuse University online clearinghouse.

According to a statement from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), ICE has refused to release anonymous statistical data on arrest location, the nature of the criminal charge, and the detention facility where the alien is being sent.

TRAC is neither a restrictionist organization, nor a new entity, nor an ideological one, nor a minor player. It is a well-established clearinghouse funded by, among others, the Ford Foundation. It has been publishing detailed data on the immigration enforcement process (as well as other federal government functions) for years, and that data has proved very valuable to scholars and immigration lawyers alike.

TRAC obtains data from ICE through a previously approved Freedom of Immigration Act (FOIA) request.

ICE told TRAC that the previously available data is now unavailable. According to TRAC, the government, under FOIA, is supposed to spell out why previously available data is no longer accessible, but it did not do so. Nor did it offer a rationale dealing with, for instance, national security.

This decision is just the latest example of the reluctance of DHS – as opposed to Justice and State – to release statistical data on its own operations. I have noted in a previous blog how little the USCIS in-house appeals entity, the Office of Administrative Appeals, tells about its decisions. It doles out individual texts, one at a time, but never offers any statistical summaries of its decisions and, to make things as obscure as possible, it scrubs the names of the aliens, their employers (if any), and the lawyers before it issues the texts.

In contrast, the comparable agency in the Department of Justice, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, publishes a remarkably detailed, well-organized Statistical Year Book.

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Correction: In my September 29 blog "The Ubiquity of Illegal Immigration, Even Unto Puerto Rico," I'd written that while Puerto Rico has 1.3 percent of the U.S. population it received less than 0.1 percent of the new green cards in FY 2009. The correct percentage is not 0.1 percent, it is 0.36 percent.