By Kevin Deutsch
The NYCLU and Bronx Defenders sued the federal government this week, claiming ICE is unlawfully keeping thousands of New Yorkers jailed for non-criminal immigration offenses.
Nearly everyone ICE apprehended over the last three years remains in lockup, the lawsuit alleges, despite a federal law mandating individualized custody determinations be made by ICE officials within 48 hours or arrest.
That determination, experts said, is supposed to be based on whether a person poses a flight or public safety risk. But ICE has avoided releasing almost all prisoners by “rigging” the risk assessment algorithm the agency uses to determine whether someone should be freed, granted bond, or kept in detention, the NYCLU and Bronx Defenders claim.
ICE’s alleged algorithm manipulation eliminates the option for recommending release, the suit alleges, meaning detainees must wait weeks or months to seek freedom before a judge.
The NYCLU said it uncovered proof of the illegal policy after suing for records and data. That data showed that, beginning in 2017, ICE’s New York Field Office all but eliminated bond or release for people awaiting immigration hearings.
“People’s rights can’t just be snuffed out because ICE wants to keep everyone locked up,” the NYCLU said of the alleged policy. “The agency is required to make individual assessments, not outsource its cruelty to a hijacked algorithm.”
New York ICE officials could not immediately be reached for comment regarding the allegations.