SAN DIEGO (CN) - The Immigration and Homeland Security departments refuse to release public documents about mass arrests of alleged "criminal aliens" in the Imperial Valley. Immigration officials claim that 80 percent of the 286 people arrested in the 3-day "enforcement surge" had "prior convictions for serious or violent crimes," but the ACLU says it has reason to doubt that.
The ACLU sued the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security in Federal Court, demanding documents on the 3-day roundup of immigrants in December 2009.
"ICE's enforcement operations ostensibly targeting 'criminal aliens' have historically resulted in a disproportionate number of arrests of individuals without any criminal records at all and of individuals with only minor criminal convictions," the ACLU says.
The ACLU claims that 73 percent of the people arrested by ICE'S fugitive operations team between 2003 and 2008 had no criminal convictions. ICE's budget grew more than twentyfold in that time.
"Though ICE's budget for fugitive operations grew from $9 million in 2003 to over $183 million in 2008, the proportion of aliens with a criminal conviction arrested by fugitive operation teams dropped from 32 percent in 2003 to 9 percent in 2007," the ACLU says.
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Dec. 19 and asked that it be expedited. So far, the only response it has received from ICE and DHS is that they refuse to expedite the process.
The ACLU wants to see the documents. It is represented by Sean Riordan.