“The only basis for the arrest seems to have been to give Border Patrol an opportunity to run an immigration investigation,” wrote Megan H. Mack, head of the Homeland Security Department’s civil rights office, in her report to Sarah Saldaña, Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, and other ICE officials. “This is not a practice the department wishes to endorse or facilitate.”News of the email come after the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona released yesterday a detailed report on Border Patrol abuse at checkpoints. Turns out that of more than 140 reports of said abuse, there was merely one disciplinary action.
Mack said the men posed no threat and should be released.
The case highlights the concern among some senior Homeland Security leaders that local police are making arrests based on appearance and then calling immigration agents to check on a detainee’s status.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials chose not to follow Mack’s recommendation and say they are still planning to deport the two men, Jose Adan Fugon-Cano and Gustavo Barahona-Sanchez. Because both men had been removed from the U.S. before, they are still priorities for deportation under the department’s guidelines, said ICE spokesman Bryan D. Cox.
The men are being held at the Alexandria Transportation Center in Louisiana.
According to the men’s lawyers, the case shows how the agency is still using arrests by local police to round up low-level offenders in the country illegally, in spite of a new plan to target only priority cases. Lawyers say the reports of these internal investigations rarely come to light.