ACLU Sues ICE Over Its Deliberately-Broken Immigrant 'Risk Assessment' Software

from the can't-really-call-it-an-'option'-if-there-are-no-alternatives dept

A couple of years ago, a Reuters investigation uncovered another revamp of immigration policies under President Trump. ICE has a Risk Classification Assessment Tool that decides whether or not arrested immigrants can be released on bail or their own recognizance. The algorithm had apparently undergone a radical transformation under the new administration, drastically decreasing the number of detainees who could be granted release. The software now recommends detention in almost every case, no matter what mitigating factors are fed to the assessment tool.

ICE is now being sued for running software that declares nearly 100% of detained immigrants too risky to be released pending hearings. The ACLU's lawsuit [PDF] opens with some disturbing stats that show how ICE has rigged the system to keep as many people detained as possible.

According to data obtained by the New York Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act, from 2013 to June 2017, approximately 47% of those deemed to be low risk by the government were granted release. From June 2017 to September 2019, that figure plummeted to 3%. This dramatic drop in the release rate comes at a time when exponentially more people are being arrested in the New York City area and immigration officials have expanded arrests of those not convicted of criminal offenses. The federal government’s sweeping detention dragnet means that people who pose no flight or safety risk are being jailed as a matter of course—in an unlawful trend that is getting worse.

Despite there being plenty of evidence that immigrants commit fewer criminal acts than natural-born citizens, the administration adopted a "No-Release Policy." That led directly to ICE tinkering with its software -- one that was supposed to assess risk factors when making detention determinations. ICE may as well just skip this step in the process since it's only going to give ICE (and the administration) the answer it wants: detention without bond. ICE agents can ask for a second opinion on detention from a supervisor, but the documents obtained by the ACLU show supervisors depart from detention recommendations less than 1% of the time.

The negative effects of this indefinite detention are real. The lawsuit points out zero-risk detainees can see their lives destroyed before they're allowed anything that resembles due process.

Once denied release under the new policy, people remain unnecessarily incarcerated in local jails for weeks or even months before they have a meaningful opportunity to seek release in a hearing before an Immigration Judge. While waiting for those hearings, those detained suffer under harsh conditions of confinement akin to criminal incarceration. While incarcerated, they are separated from families, friends, and communities, and they risk losing their children, their jobs, and their homes. Because of inadequate medical care and conditions in the jails, unmet medical and mental-health needs often lead to serious and at times irreversible consequences.

When they do finally get to see a judge, nearly 40% of them are released on bond. ICE treats nearly 100% of detained immigrants as dangerous. Judges -- judges employed by the DOJ and appointed by the Attorney General -- clearly don't agree with the agency's rigged assessment system.

There will always be those who say, "Well, don't break the law." These aren't criminal proceedings. These are civil proceedings where the detained are tossed into criminal facilities until they're able to see a judge. This steady stripping of options began under the Obama administration but accelerated under Trump and his no-release policy.

ICE began to alter its custody determinations process in 2015, modifying its risk-assessment tool so that it could no longer recommend individuals be given the opportunity for release on bond. In mid-2017, ICE then removed the tool’s ability to recommend release on recognizance. As a result, the assessment tool—on which ICE offices across the country rely— can only make one substantive recommendation: detention without bond.

The ACLU is hoping to have a class action lawsuit certified that would allow it to hold ICE responsible for violating rights en masse, including the Fifth Amendment's due process clause. Since ICE is no longer pretending to be targeting the "worst of the worst," the agency and its deliberately-broken risk assessment tool are locking up immigrants who have lived here for an average of sixteen years -- people who've added to their communities, held down jobs, and raised families. These are the people targeted by ICE and it is ensuring that it is these people who are thrown into prisons and jails until their hearings, tearing apart their lives and families while denying them the rights extended to them by our Constitution.

Filed Under: algorithms, bail, ice, immigrants, risk assessment, software
Companies: aclu


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    tz1 (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 4:17am

    Other Tech

    The same thing happens to DUIs where people aren't visibly or even reliably drunk. Their lives are also torn apart and financially ruined. All because of closed source Breathalyzers, but the magic voodoo box shows a number, and is judge and jury. And when they have been exposed they have found bugs. And the "drug test kits" that think krispy kreme glaze is an illegal drug. Or flour. Or dust. Or anything. Citizens are second class. ILLEGAL (you forgot the adjective) immigrants are privileged and are "catch and release". They don't need Auto Insurance. They don't even need driver's licenses. Or engage in ID theft. But Citizens have to play by the rules. We should fix the Police State against Citizens before worrying about those who chose to come here outside of the legal procedures.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 7:17am

      Re: Other Tech

      Ugh, you Trumptards and your "illegal" nonsense. Seeking asylum is not illegal.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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        Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 7:22am

        Re: Re: Other Tech

        You really should read the actual laws that apply in this case before implying someone else is retarded. Passing through one safe country to seek asylum in another very much is illegal. It's every bit as sleazy as forum-shopping in a court case, for all the same reasons, and unlike forum-shopping, it actually is against applicable law.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 9:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Other Tech

          "Passing through one safe country to seek asylum in another very much is illegal."

          Interesting ...
          Please explain how the laws in one country are applicable in some other country.
          There are several countries on the us do not go to list, which one are you referring to here where it was illegal to go there?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 10:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Other Tech

            Please explain how the laws in one country are applicable in some other country.

            Because we're talking about international law here, treaties that have been agreed to by multiple countries. If you're a legitimate refugee seeking refuge, you are required to stop in the first safe country you come to. Passing through it to some other country is illegal forum-shopping.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 11:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Other Tech

              If you're a legitimate refugee seeking refuge, you are required to stop in the first safe country you come to.

              Are you arguing that Mexico is safe?

              Because all the trumptards on my facebook feed were telling me not to get abducted or killed when I stopped in Mexico for vacation last year. A couple called me an idiot for even bothering to travel to such a "hellhole" as they so un-eloquently put it.

              But here you are arguing it's good enough for them?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 11:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Other Tech

              I'm sure you can cite the applicable treaty.

              And not the Dublin Regulation, which only affects refugees within the European Union; nor the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, which only applies to refugees who are passing through Canada to claim asylum in the US, or vice versa. I'm talking about a law that would apply to refugees passing through Mexico to seek asylum in the US.

              So... Which "international law" are you referring to that would apply in this case? Which "treaties that have been agreed to by multiple countries?"

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 12:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Other Tech

              "we're talking about international law here"

              I thought the topic was about Deliberately-Broken Immigrant 'Risk Assessment' Software. How does this software address international law and why would it bother to, not like nations actually adhere to any of what they say or "agree" to. It's laughable.

              If you are running away from almost certain torture and death do you really have the presence of mind to go to your local library and research the accepted ways of seeking shelter elsewhere?

              I really doubt any of the immigrants at our border begging for help know anything at all about this forum-shopping problem.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 9:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Other Tech

          You really should read the actual laws that apply in this case before implying someone else is retarded.

          There is a ridiculously high probability of a trump supporter being retarded, regardless of what they're quoting.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    kag (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 5:56am

    Illegal

    So if illegals can't bother to follow the rules for entry into the country, why should anyone assume that they would return for a court hearing? I wouldn't count on it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 7:12am

    The internal situation in the US isn't really great for immigrant populations right now but I don't think it's ICE's fault. Maybe things can improve.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 9:19am

      Re:

      "situation in the US isn't really great for immigrant populations right now"

      Most of those who populate the US are immigrants.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 7:20am

    ILLEGAL (you forgot the adjective) immigrants

    Somehow they always do. It helps The Narrative. (See also: the protestation that these guys did nothing wrong, when they're breaking the law simply by being here. Software Recommends Lawbreakers Be Locked Up. News At 11!)

    It's a bit sad to see how far we've fallen since the days of Teddy Roosevelt.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      There are Legal immigrants and ILLEGAL immigrants. No one has a right to come to this country. Just like no one has a right to come to any other country. A country without borders is not a country.

      Not only did you break the law coming into this country Illegally, now you broke another law to be put in jail where ICE can find you. Time for the boot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        There are Legal immigrants and ILLEGAL immigrants. No one has a right to come to this country. Just like no one has a right to come to any other country. A country without borders is not a country.

        Are you saying the US was not a country for more than a century after it was founded, when it was perfectly legal for anyone to just come and show up? You know we only started blocking people from entering the country when people got scared about people of a different skin color showing up on our shores to help build the railroad.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re:

        "No one has a right to come to this country."

        Who is claiming such a right?
        I thought most illegals were over staying their visa but many are of the opinion that the majority are border crossers. Well, most border crossers are fleeing violence rather than seeking a right.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Mar 2020 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re:

        "No one has a right to come to this country. Just like no one has a right to come to any other country. A country without borders is not a country."

        So get your ass back on the Mayflower and go home where you came from, right?

        I'm not sure someone whose squatting rights were bought with occupation, genocide and ethnic cleansing should be talking too loudly about what "rights" an immigrant has.
        Are you saying you're fine if the Navajo, Sioux, Cherokee or Ute nations deport your ass?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 7:40am

    "deliberately broken"

    Weird conspiracy theory. Pretty lunatic tbh. I'll tell people from now on, if my software isn't working, it's "deliberately broken". Very glass half-full attitude there.

    "Despite there being plenty of evidence that immigrants commit fewer criminal acts than natural-born citizens"

    Nonsense. So, if you follow the link, you have to go down the rabbit hole to another link, and then you find:

    "In each year immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives with the gap widening each decade."

    Well that's true of whites too, vs blacks & other minorities, but you're simply describing the profile of success of the justice system, not the actual truth of the situation. In other words, you would not accept that because blacks have a very high incarceration rate, blacks are more criminal. You would have it that the justice system is biased. So we discredit the source of the "data" right away.

    Why would the numbers be off? Illegals and legals alike are much less likely to resort to the police when they are a victim of a crime. Additionally, because gang activity is much more substantial in immigrant communities, immigrants turn to them for help instead (which actually makes for a doubled crime, since vigilantism is unlawful).

    And another reason why you would see a negative correlation between immigrants and crime rates is that immigrants are highly mobile workers. And so, what happens is immigrants go to places where therre's work. And the places where there is work are obviously those places experiencing good financial conditions. Wages rise, and housewives hire nannies and cleaners. Wages rise, people add on and build new homes. Wages decline, immigrants leave (they are precisely defined as those least likely to have roots in the area, obviously).

    And an important technicality, which is overlooked by most, illegals obviously have a higher rate of crime, if you count being illegal in the first place as a crime, if you discount it, then you are looking at something else, but it's a point that bears repeating, because it seems people have forgotten that it is not lawful to break a nation's laws (by definition), regardless of what is fashionable.

    And let's send this missive off with an LOL:
    " The requested page "/documents/pdf/Clinics/Sampson_Immigration_Contexts.pdf" could not be found. "

    So yeah, not really dealing with original research here. Just the piling on of bad faith "reasoning".

    And now let's resort to the silver bullet, shall we, in all cases of vampires and other superstitions. That is, did we even look at the right thing at all?

    "The public focus is on the crime rates of unauthorized or illegal immigrants. The research papers above mostly include all immigrants regardless of legal status. "

    So, by mixing in the most law-abiding (legals), with the least (illegals - remember, they commited a crime by definition), well, you have something utterly useless.

    How dishonest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They place it at the end of the page (the second one)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As usual, the commies are liars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 9:29am

      Re:

      "As usual, the commies are liars."

      Well, I have heard how much time donald spent in russia and on the phone with putin, he does want total control of the means of production and demands fealty. Sounds a bit like communism to me.

      Oh yeah ... and he lies all the time.

      I'm glad you pointed this out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 7:45am

    For one thing, if you're an Illegal, you already broke the law. Now you're arrested for something else. Clearly you need to get the boot. You have no right to be in this country. You cut the line in front of everyone else around the world that wants to come here.

    Illegals suck up limited resources for those here legally and American's who should be getting them. Illegals also keep wages down low, which also hurt poor American's and Legal people here. If you are an Illegal, you have no right to be here. Don't cry to me that you may not have gotten caught for 10 years and made a life and now you're getting deported.

    Come here the LEGAL way. Get in line. Jump through all the hoops. Wait for however long it takes, and when they say come on in, LEGALLY, I welcome you here!!!! You cut in front of everyone else trying to get here, You should get the boot. I welcome everyone around the world to this country that came here LEGALLY, according to the laws of this country.

    A country without borders is not a country. Every country has a right to protect its borders. I've been watching the UK Show on their own Border Wars. If you hire an Illegal and are caught, $10,000 fine for each and every one of them. They take things much more serius there than we do.

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Dan, 5 Mar 2020 @ 8:04am

    Who are these "immigrants"?

    Are the detainees lawful immigrants? Illegal aliens (oh, I'm sorry, "undocumented immigrants")? Or an undifferentiated group of non-citizens? The answer to this question matters a great deal, and basic journalistic competence would have indicated you should have answered it in the article. If you know the answer but didn't say, that's outright dishonest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 8:27am

      Re: Who are these "immigrants"?

      Well, it is Tim Cushing. What did you expect?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Koby (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 8:47am

    Equality

    If I was accused of a crime, and at the bond hearing it was determined that there was a 90% chance that I would not show up for my trial, then I would fully expect to be held without bond. Illegal immigrants should not be granted special privileges over the citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Cdaragorn (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 10:15am

    They don't want to think about it

    There will always be those who say, "Well, don't break the law." These aren't criminal proceedings. These are civil proceedings

    Those who make this argument don't care about that difference. They don't care about treating anyone they've decided they don't need to care about with any ounce of decency. Their logic in this argument is so incredibly stupid it would treat speeding violations with the same severity as murder because both are "breaking the law".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 12:24pm

      Re: They don't want to think about it

      You forgot to add the part about them not caring if someone breaks the law if they are part of their group. This is the 'Law and Order (for you, not us)' group.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 5:16pm

    Why do you need software for this? Just print a checklist: Was the crime violent? Has the offender skipped bail before? Is the offender black? (Sarcasm, but I bet it exists in the software.)
    Removes perceived bias and there's no need to expose software because the decision monikers are there for all to see (and if applicable, challenge).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 9:46pm

    I can't remember where I read it, but I recall that before Trump ramped up the draconian racism to 11, only around 4% of immigrants failed to show up for their hearings.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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