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Thin ICE
May 21, 2009 1:37 PM   Subscribe

"ICE does not keep records on cases in which detainees claim to be US citizens. If larger trends are consistent with the pattern in Hartzler's caseload, since 2004 ICE has held between 3,500 and 10,000 US citizens in detention facilities and deported about half. US citizens are a small percentage of ICE detentions for this period, which totaled around 1 million, but in absolute terms the figure is staggering. "
posted by Pope Guilty (101 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, hell, I forgot to put quotes around the post, since it's a pull from the article. Can somebody with the power to do so fix that for me?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:45 PM on May 21, 2009


To link to the author's blog.
posted by found missing at 1:51 PM on May 21, 2009


Just curious, what's the difference between 'illegal detention' and kidnapping?
posted by mullingitover at 1:55 PM on May 21, 2009


Just curious, what's the difference between 'illegal detention' and kidnapping?

The government does the former.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:56 PM on May 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


One's done by cops.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:56 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, there's a solution to all of this. It's called retina scans; ID cards; centralized databases containing all of your relevant records; and cops asking, "Papers, please."

Now, raise your hand if you're in favor of that idea.

/me looks around

Yeah, about what I thought.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:01 PM on May 21, 2009


You know, these people shouldn't have to prove they're citizens, because they shouldn't be deporting people like this in the first place.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:06 PM on May 21, 2009


CPB, are you claiming that the only alternative to the deportation of US Citizens is a police state? Seriously?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:07 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know, there's a solution to all of this.

Another solution is for ICE to practice due diligence and prove that their targets are not citizens, before deporting them.

That shouldn't require invalidating everyone's civil rights, so much as training an organization to, you know, do its job in a procedurally legal and correct manner.

But, then, we're a lazy country and can't be bothered to do a half-assed job that requires a full-ass. So who cares if some Mexican-lookin' fellars get shipped off.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 PM on May 21, 2009 [12 favorites]


Three years in Jail for 'Falsely Impersonating a US Citizen'. I feel sick just thinking about it.
posted by fingerbang at 2:12 PM on May 21, 2009


How the fuck can you deport a US citizen? I guess since I "don't look Mexican" I'm safe?
posted by birdherder at 2:14 PM on May 21, 2009


Between 2001 and 2007 Robert, who requested that his last name be withheld, was incarcerated for five years and deported to Tijuana twice because ICE refused to believe he was a US citizen.

Unbelievable. And his full story in the article is fraught with bureaucracy, ineptitude and incompetence.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on May 21, 2009


Go go post-racial America! We don't need no affirmative action, we've got affirmative extradition!
posted by yeloson at 2:33 PM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know, there's a solution to all of this. It's called retina scans; ID cards; centralized databases containing all of your relevant records; and cops asking, "Papers, please." adherence to the law by law enforcement agencies.

I'm sorry, but this steams the hell out of me. There is no excuse - NO EXCUSE - for this.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:37 PM on May 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Born in East L.A. was supposed to be a farcical comedy, not a documentary.
posted by jedicus at 2:39 PM on May 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


I guess since I "don't look Mexican" I'm safe?

Or have a dark complexion.

Apr. 30, 2009: Mark Lyttle, "a North Carolina-born U.S. citizen...who his family says is mentally ill and suffers from mild retardation," was deported to Mexico, then Honduras, then Guatemala.

"[Lyttle] has a dark complexion because his father was part Puerto Rican."
posted by ericb at 2:40 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, there's a solution to all of this. It's called retina scans; ID cards; centralized databases containing all of your relevant records; and cops asking, "Papers, please."

CPB, can you say more about why you see these extremes as the only way to prevent this massive miscarriage of justice for US citizens? It seems to me that the burden of proof is on law enforcement, not on the individual. Is there some reason why this general principle is violated routinely in this circumstance?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:42 PM on May 21, 2009


In related news...

February 14, 2009: 108,000 people deported had US citizen children.
posted by ericb at 2:42 PM on May 21, 2009


You know, there's a solution to all of this. It's called retina scans; ID cards; centralized databases containing all of your relevant records; and cops asking, "Papers, please."

Now, raise your hand if you're in favor of that idea.


That doesn't even begin to make sense.
posted by delmoi at 2:51 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


You guys are missing the point. Again.

You either allow deportations of non-citizens or you don't.

OK, let's say you're against deportations, period. Great, no need for immigration enforcement. Hooray.

But let's say you want deportations in some instances. Then you need a method of verification, because your word doesn't count. And yes, if you want deportations, then someone will have to ask, "Well, are you a citizen, or not? You, like, got some ID on you?"

Moreover, you want 100 percent accuracy so that no citizen is wrongly deported. That means incontrovertible documentation. That means biometric scanning, especially in the case of minors or the mentally ill (such as those folks in the article ... you read the article, right?) that can't sign or understand documents or the entire legal process.

Or you have really fucking good ID cards, which themselves are backed up ... wait for it ... biometric scanning.

How do you think people will react the first time you ask them to look into the retina scanner (or place their hands in the fingerprint reader)? How do you think they'll react when you tell them you'll be storing the record in a database?

I mean, some of you guys bitch about metal detectors at the airport!

I can't wait to read the MeFi threads in 2020. "Dude, OMG, the retina scanner was, like, so fuckin' bright. Goddam cops."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:51 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


No child left behind, right?
posted by yeloson at 2:52 PM on May 21, 2009


It seems strange to me that deporting someone doesn't require some kind of confirmation from the receiving country that the person belongs to them. Because, I mean, there are some Januaries when I'd be all for getting deported to say, The Bahamas, and it seems like it wouldn't be that hard.

In the case of the woman who was going to be sent to France, they did seem to check with France, who were all 'Uh, yeah, we've already got one crazy guy living in our airport, thanks' but with Mexico, it seems like they just drive them across the border and drop them in TJ. Which in and of itself seems like kind of an issue.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:53 PM on May 21, 2009


American residents are made out of people! People!!!
posted by cubby at 2:57 PM on May 21, 2009


by which I mean -- I am ashamed that my country has such a hard time treating its residents, citizens or otherwise, like they are actual human beings.
posted by cubby at 3:01 PM on May 21, 2009


It seems strange to me that deporting someone doesn't require some kind of confirmation from the receiving country that the person belongs to them.

There are. It's just that many governments are corrupt and incompetent as shit (including ours).

My buddy the ICE agent (yep, that's what he is) reports that jails throughout the country have inmates with foreign IDs that can't be deported because their host country won't take them, won't return calls, don't care, etc. Years go by waiting for the assistant to the assistant undersecretary of interior affairs of Lower Slobovia to stamp a piece of paper. And occassionally, the country's government or bureaucracy just ceases to exist.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:02 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or you have really fucking good ID cards, which themselves are backed up ... wait for it ... biometric scanning.

CPB, you seem to be assuming that we need to deport 100% of non-citizens, so sweepinp up some citizens is inevitable. If one assumes, on the other hand, that only those who are proven non-citizens should be deported, then the problem of deporting or detaining citizens goes away. I mean, why should I have to prove I am here legally? I don't have to prove, for instance, that I haven't murdered anyone, a far more serious crime, so why this one? I thinking a little hysteria is feeding this.

With that in mind, I think the current 99% positive predictivity is unacceptable. If it were 99.999%, I could believe someone was really making some effort at establishing lack of citizenship, but the figures suggest incompetence or racialism on the part of the ICE.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:02 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the ICE could deport me to somewhere in Europe for a week, that'd be great.
posted by kldickson at 3:06 PM on May 21, 2009


CPB, you seem to be assuming that we need to deport 100% of non-citizens

Well, like I said, you either believe we should deport non-citizens with no visas, no work rights, people that have committed crimes, etc., or you don't. This is what we're talking about here.

In other words, you either have immigration laws, or you don't. If you have immigration laws, then you have to have verification and/or punishment of some kind for breaking the law (which could include deportation). If you have verification, it should be incontrovertible, yes?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:13 PM on May 21, 2009


If you have verification, it should be incontrovertible, yes?

So are you arguing for biometrics only for those in the Latino community, or have a "Latino appearance"?

You say you're not arguing for a police state, so I'm trying to figure out exactly what you're suggesting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:16 PM on May 21, 2009


To link to the author's blog.

Apr. 30, 2009: Mark Lyttle, "a North Carolina-born U.S. citizen...who his family says is mentally ill and suffers from mild retardation...

Ah ... the most recent blog entry is about Lyttle.
posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on May 21, 2009


If you have verification, it should be incontrovertible, yes?

You know, sometimes technology is the limiting factor in your plans. Other times, it's the second law of thermodynamics.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:21 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, there's a solution to all of this. It's called retina scans; ID cards; centralized databases containing all of your relevant records; and cops asking, "Papers, please."

The thing is, that in 20 years, I have almost no doubt that the first three things will be common practice. Just like social security cards freaked people out back in the day, but now are just an accepted part of life, so too will be the fact that all your identity information is centrally located, and tied to unalterable identification points on you.

It will probably come with some conveniences like getting you through customs/ immigration faster, making it harder to commit identity fraud, and making the need for carrying around money or credit cards less necessary, but whether we like it or not, it's almost certainly going to happen.

As to cops saying "Papers, please?" That'll be pretty redundant since there won't be a need for papers. They'll just biometric you from a distance and know who you are before you even know that they are there.

I don't like it, but I don't pretend that it ain't coming.
posted by quin at 3:23 PM on May 21, 2009


How the fuck can you deport a US citizen? I guess since I "don't look Mexican" I'm safe?
posted by birdherder at 5:14 PM on May 21 [+] [!]

If the ICE could deport me to somewhere in Europe for a week, that'd be great.
posted by kldickson at 6:06 PM on May 21 [+] [!]


Birdherder, no, and kldickson, maybe:

"The case of Anna (not her real name), arrested in Phoenix on October 8, 2007, for prostitution, is particularly tragic. When the police asked for her place of birth she answered, "Paris." When applying under another name for a US passport, in 1991, Anna wrote that she was from Tehran. According to Hartzler, Anna also claims JFK is her father and the Pope is her father. Anna is from France the way that Borat is from Kazakhstan. In February 2007 an Arizona Superior Court dismissed drug charges against Anna, finding her "unable to understand the nature of the proceedings" as well as "criminally incompetent and a danger to herself and others." Anna has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic.

On October 9, based only on her claim to have been born in Paris, Anna was taken to the Eloy Detention Center, where an ICE agent took full note of her US passport application and "8 different aliases, and 2 SSNs." On February 20 immigration judge Thomas Michael O'Leary, who had Anna's records, including the diagnoses of the court psychiatrists, issued an order to remove Anna from the country. "
posted by availablelight at 3:25 PM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


There are a couple of issues here. Assuming ICE have reasonable grounds for deporting a detainee, if he is not a US citizen, but they have to PROVE he is not a US citizen to some acceptable standard (balance of probabilities, reasonable doubt), most detainees will presumably claim to be US citizens, and ICE will have to prove a negative in every case, which is extremely difficult. This would solve the problem of detainees who really are US citizens, but probably tie the system into a permanent knot.

Secondly, the destination country has every incentive to play dumb/lose the paperwork/not answer the phones and hope the problem will go away, as they probably regard the potential returnee in an unfavorable light.

So, yeah, you can go the biometric police state route, or you can revise your immigration laws so that legal immigration is a viable route to entry. Because if you've ever looked into getting a Green Card, you soon discover that it's extremely, extremely difficult.
posted by unSane at 3:25 PM on May 21, 2009


Jesus.

He'd likely be deported, as well, due to his appearance - swarthy, bearded and a well-known "rabble rouser!"
posted by ericb at 3:27 PM on May 21, 2009


If you have verification, it should be incontrovertible, yes?

Again, at the risk of repeating myself) you seem to feel that the need for certainty is on the part of the accused, not on the part of the ICE. I think you create a false dichotomy when you say you either believe in enforcing the law and thus need to absolutely be sure to deport all undocumented aliens or you don't and none will be deported. I can believe in deporting undocumented aliens, but would be okay with only deporting those that ICE can prove are undocumented aliens. The problem with the current situation is that the ICE has placed the burden of proof on the (presumably innocent) accused. When the accused can't prove citizenship, they are locked up and perhaps deported.

But I can tell this is a hot button issue, so I won't be trying to make this point again.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:30 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


He'd likely be deported, as well, due to his appearance - swarthy, bearded and a well-known "rabble rouser!"

And no documentation; the New Testament wasn't written until after his death.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:31 PM on May 21, 2009


You say you're not arguing for a police state, so I'm trying to figure out exactly what you're suggesting.

I'm saying that anyone wringing their hands and calling for ICE's head on a pole will like the alternative even less.

OMG, they're deporting citizens! How cruel and heartless!
Well, do you want to deport non-citizens?
Yes, sometimes. But I don't want the pigs to make mistakes like this!
Oh, there's a way to ensure there won't be any mistakes. Just step into the scanner.
No way! Fuck you, pig!
Sigh.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:34 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


You either allow deportations of non-citizens or you don't.

That's not the problem. The problem is with the burden of proof.

It should not be up to citizens to prove and re-prove that they are citizens, or we're in a spiral to the police state suggested above. It should be ICE's responsibility to prove that an accused is illegal. If ICE can't convince someone (like, say, a judge or three) that a person is in the country illegally, then guess what? They're not.

Our entire criminal justice system is (purportedly) based on the notion innocent-until-proven-guilty. Let's try that.
posted by rokusan at 3:41 PM on May 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm saying that anyone wringing their hands and calling for ICE's head on a pole will like the alternative even less.

So those are the only two choices, then?

Nothing in between, like ICE maybe doing its job a bit less poorly?
posted by rokusan at 3:42 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you're going to deport people for immigration violations, there obviously needs to be a pretty good system for making sure those people are who the government thinks they are. That system will have to cover everybody, not just the swarthy folks or those with funny accents.

That said, it seems pretty wasteful incarcerating and deporting people for immigration violations. It would seem a better idea for various law enforcement agencies to use their resources catching people causing actual harm to people and/or property.
posted by 2N2222 at 3:43 PM on May 21, 2009


> Another solution is for ICE to practice due diligence and prove that their targets are not citizens, before deporting them.
> I mean, why should I have to prove I am here legally?
> It seems to me that the burden of proof is on law enforcement, not on the individual.
etc.

Presumption of innocence is great and all, but how exactly is it supposed to work in this case? If the United States suspects someone isn't a citizen, how can that possibly be proven? Placing the burden of proof entirely on the government will simply result in all illegal residents claiming citizenship.

I'm not defending ICE here -- clearly, they've acted immorally and illegally. Citizens suspected of illegal residence absolutely need to be provided time and opportunity to prove their citizenship. But I don't see anyway you can identify illegal residents without requiring some proof of citizenship.
posted by christonabike at 3:44 PM on May 21, 2009


Essentially, Cool Papa Bell is right. Provided:Then the logical extension of those facts is some form of biometric identification. Can someone tell me why one of the above is wrong?
posted by christonabike at 3:49 PM on May 21, 2009


I'm saying that anyone wringing their hands and calling for ICE's head on a pole will like the alternative even less.

Did you read the article? Even when someone else does research about the statuses of several detainees American citizenship and hands that over to ICE, they choose to do nothing and allow the detainees to remain in custody.

Are you really suggesting the only alternative to this criminal level of ineptitude is a police state? Really? No alternatives at all, huh?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:54 PM on May 21, 2009


If they'll do it to them and theirs, they may get around to doing it to you and yours one fine day. The power differential is just too great. They can make a mistake and it most likely won't count for shit; you, on the other hand, may find your life turned upside down because of it. And it can cost you everything you have just to try and get a little justice for yourself, with no guarantees forthcoming.

But I'm married to a resident alien and my attitude is colored by the hell we have gone through with these mother fucking ICE assholes (under another name at the time.) This is what I think of whenever the issue of immigration comes up, and my wife and I had it nowhere as bad as any of the people in this post.
posted by metagnathous at 3:57 PM on May 21, 2009


Also, thank you Pope Guilty for the post.
posted by metagnathous at 4:03 PM on May 21, 2009


The method of identification should be 100% accurate

Well, no, the method of identification should have no false positives (i.e., should never falsely conclude that someone is an illegal immigrant). The false negative rate (i.e., falsely concluding that someone is a US citizen), on the other hand, is entirely negotiable. This is the difference between sensitivity and specificity.

It's trivial to have no false positives: just declare everyone a legal resident or citizen. That won't do, but we can get a fair number of true positives without increasing the false positive rate. For example: foreign passports, admissions, trustworthy foreign government records, etc.

Basically, I'm willing to see a hundred illegal immigrants allowed into the country rather than one US citizen be wrongly deported. The same is true of defendants in the criminal justice system, and to my mind anyone who has even a colorable argument that they are a US citizen deserves no less.
posted by jedicus at 4:09 PM on May 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


Heh, this really sucks, but having dealt with such assholes the reasons seem pretty clear. I'm sure that there are measures in place to make sure that thing proceed properly, but who is going to go out of there way to do a good job when they feel like their job is on the line anyway, their spouse was just laid off, the kids won't shut up and who gives a shit about these damn illegal aliens anyway?

So yes, heads have to roll, there has to be firing, hiring, training and rework on a massive scale.

Who's the boss anyway? Was that in the article?
posted by snsranch at 4:17 PM on May 21, 2009


The method of identification should be 100% accurate

Fail. We don't require this for capital crimes, so why for this one?
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:19 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, I read the article more closely and now I'm even more pissed. Jeez.
posted by snsranch at 4:22 PM on May 21, 2009


We don't require this for capital crimes

That the system all but guarantees that the innocent will be put to death is not a good argument in favor of it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:30 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nothing in between, like ICE maybe doing its job a bit less poorly?

So, you'd be willing to fund ICE a lot better? Really? I mean, I'd like to see that, sure. But I didn't realize there was a growing rah-rah sentiment for the Department of Homeland Security here. ;-)

Anyone starting to see the catch-22 yet?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:32 PM on May 21, 2009


We don't require this for capital crimes

Maybe ... we ... should ... ?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:33 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I bet Americans whose ancestry can be traced to Afghanistan or Pakistan are glad that the US authorities are back to picking on their old favourite scapegoats, Mexicans.
posted by GuyZero at 4:34 PM on May 21, 2009


Are you really suggesting the only alternative to this criminal level of ineptitude is a police state? Really? No alternatives at all, huh?

As others have pointed out, he's borderline trolling this false dichotomy:
* perfect law enforcement through an all-knowing police state
* citizens acceptance of any and all law enforcement errors no matter how egregious or preventable

It's the Dick Cheney argument: trade liberty for security, citizen. 9/11 happened because our hands were tied!
posted by crayz at 4:34 PM on May 21, 2009


CPB, you're on a roll man!

I agree that there's no getting around the "police state" eventually. But that's wholly unAmerican.

The AMERICAN thing to do is to say, "Hey, so a few slip through the cracks, but at least we don't have a police state."
posted by snsranch at 4:38 PM on May 21, 2009


So, you'd be willing to fund ICE a lot better?

So, you're saying that we don't really need a police state, but you think with better training, better oversight and more funding, they might be able to do a competent job? Where are we now?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:40 PM on May 21, 2009


There's an easier way to get illegal immigrants to leave: dump your economy in the toilet. A 9% unemployment rate will render ICE redundant.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on May 21, 2009


There are people walking around free here who were born and raised here in the U.S. and are at least as bad if not worse than anybody that may come here legally or otherwise. Maybe we'd be better off trying to ship some of our own native shitheads to Mexico or points South rather than restricting immigration from those areas. Then again NAFTA probably went quite a ways toward accomplishing that, so in a certain sense we're only reaping the fruits of our wonderful elite business class of miscreants at the end of the day.
posted by metagnathous at 4:42 PM on May 21, 2009


Like you mentioned CPB, you get what you pay for. If you want the best you'll have to pay for it. But that requires fiscal responsibility and well planned priorities. Two things this country has never had and never will.

So get used to mediocrity, if you haven't already.
posted by snsranch at 4:42 PM on May 21, 2009


> Basically, I'm willing to see a hundred illegal immigrants allowed into the country rather than one US citizen be wrongly deported.
> "Fail. We don't require this for capital crimes, so why for this one?"

The phrasing on my post was a little strong. I'm not saying that we should want to deport people or have 100% accurating; I'm saying that if we do, then the only way to do it is biometically.

> Basically, I'm willing to see a hundred illegal immigrants allowed into the country rather than one US citizen be wrongly deported.

I agree. However, with the current state of documentation in the United States, I think it's impossible to get a 0% false positive rate without a very high false negative rate. Those two rates are inextricably linked, and considering the types of people we're talking about "foreign passports, admissions, trustworthy foreign government records" aren't going to cut it.

Suppose the United States has arrested John Doe for, let's say, marijuana possession. John Doe claims to be a United States citizen. The United States doesn't know his name, what country he's from, or anything about him. He doesn't speak English, doesn't have a driver's license and works an under the table job. How do you prove this guy isn't a citizen?

It seems impossible. The only thing the government can do is given him absolutely every opportunity to prove he actually is a citizen. The government can take down his name, date of birth, birth place, etc. and investigate it. Of course, the government would want to ensure he doesn't flee while they're checking his claims, which means either confinement or constant surveillance.

Investigating someone's citizenship seems an incredibly tricky proposition. I certainly don't propose to have any answers. However, the attitudes in this thread are short sighted and idealistic.
posted by christonabike at 4:45 PM on May 21, 2009


There are some US citizens that can't prove that they are indeed citizens.

An extreme example (friend of mine, anecdotal): a woman born of a midwife, whose mother died a few years ago - no hospital records, no affidavit from mother, no way to prove her citizenship (that particular woman most likely won't be deported, she 'looks american', but she can't prove her identity to get her SS card re-issued to her either).

Other problems with 'proving' your citizenship: burden of proof - it seem as if once accused the burden of proof is on the potential deportee- "prove you are american"; this doesn't seem right.

Under my understanding it sounds as if it is easier for a US citizen to be deported than to have ones trunk searched: "If someone claims birth in the United States, as Guzman did, then ICE agents must have a "reasonable suspicion" for disbelief before detaining him". Can a lawyer explain what 'reasonable suspicion'? That seems like an absurdly low burden.

Something help ensure the problem is not addressed: "ICE does not keep records on cases in which detainees claim to be US citizens."

Another sign this is all very very broken - since when do sitting judges need to request anonymity? - "An immigration judge, who requested anonymity, told me it was "notoriously common for people to be whisked away and nobody knows where they are.""

And the right to counsel: correct me if I'm wrong, but if I'm charged with a crime and can't afford a lawyer, I'll get (perhaps crappy) free legal representation. If, I'm charged with not being a citizen, not so much (no legal representation, incredibly low burden of proof, need to prove innocence).

I think there are a lot of identifiable problems with our current system. Problems that can be addressed intelligently without resorting to a police state.

The protections the US Constitution gives do not contain a clause 'unless we think you are here illegally'.

It sounds as if Mead of the ICE lied to congress and perhaps should be criminally prosecuted for that. If people can lie to congress with immunity, why would anyone tell the truth? ("In response to different versions of this question from members of Congress in February, ICE's Mead pretended that the events brought before him did not exist")

"ICE's false imprisonment of US citizens and other legal residents, however, is a serious crime."

Yes. People should go to jail.
posted by el io at 4:47 PM on May 21, 2009


ICE does not keep records on cases in which detainees claim to be US citizens.
Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to ICE.
Caution: ICE may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. ICE contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
Do not place ICE on concrete.
Discontinue use of ICE if any of the following occurs:
* itching
* vertigo
* dizziness
* tingling in extremities
* fascism
* slurred speech
* temporary blindness
* profuse sweating
* or heart palpitations.

If ICE begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.
ICE may stick to certain types of skin.
Do not taunt ICE.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:49 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I get mistaken for Hispanic all the time. I live in a border state, and about half our population is Hispanic. It's never the Hispanics though. I've had people talk halting Spanish at me, despite the fact that I was just speaking English to someone else. It's crazy making. (For the record, I think most of the people who assume I speak Spanish would prefer that I be Mexican...I think the fact that I've got the blood of the dreaded Middle Eastern races running in my veins would really rock their xeno-boat.)
posted by dejah420 at 4:49 PM on May 21, 2009


You can solve the illegal immigration & illegal deportation problem in one fell swoop, just make it a felony to employ an illegal alien for more than 10 hours per week. Employers will then hire fewer illegal aliens, so they'll mostly move away. A state can pass this law without the nation's blessing.

Of course, this completely overlooks the massive economic benefit illegal aliens bring by depressing wages and cheaply doing jobs no one wants, all while massively overpaying on taxes. So criminalizing the employment of illegal aliens might have really nasty side effects, but it'll solve exactly these two problems.

If you wanted, you could always behave like a civilized country and grant working holiday visas, i.e. work visas for any unmarried people under 30 from Europe, the Americas, Japan, or South Korea, who (a) speak english well and (b) have $3k saved. It won't solve the "doing jobs nobody else wants" issue, but it'll help other economic issues, and create massive long term soft power.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:23 PM on May 21, 2009


You can solve the illegal immigration & illegal deportation problem in one fell swoop, just make it a felony to employ an illegal alien for more than 10 hours per week.

In a related vein, you can make it illegal to burglarize more than three homes per twenty-four hour period.

(It's already illegal to employ an illegal immigrant, period.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:45 PM on May 21, 2009




Three years in Jail for 'Falsely Impersonating a US Citizen'


Honest to God, I never knew there was such a charge, beyond using false documentation, like Social Security cards.
posted by etaoin at 7:29 PM on May 21, 2009


It seems strange to me that deporting someone doesn't require some kind of confirmation from the receiving country that the person belongs to them. Because, I mean, there are some Januaries when I'd be all for getting deported to say, The Bahamas, and it seems like it wouldn't be that hard.

Checks her profile. Yup, she's a Canuck. I knew I recognized the thinking of a fellow winter-surviver.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:40 PM on May 21, 2009


It should not be up to citizens to prove and re-prove that they are citizens, or we're in a spiral to the police state suggested above. It should be ICE's responsibility to prove that an accused is illegal. If ICE can't convince someone (like, say, a judge or three) that a person is in the country illegally, then guess what? They're not.

Exactly. It's not acceptable to have a situation where actual citizens end up getting deported to the tune of millions. Hell, a hundred would be bad enough.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 PM on May 21, 2009


I think the main thing that would have to change to make this problem go away is one of mindset. It seems clear that ICE's job is to deport non-citizens, which makes sense. But there needs to be a branch of ICE or a corresponding organization, which has equally sufficient funding, whose job it is to help people document their citizenship when it's in question. People who have an idea of where they can look -- family records, church records, hospital records, school records, etc, and can help them draft those letters. Essentially, a public defender equivalent -- the article makes it clear that these are considered civil cases, and most of the people go through them without any kind of legal counsel or advocate to help them do something they have no idea how to do. It seems like if they had that, a whole lot of these problems would go away.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:11 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


we can get a fair number of true positives without increasing the false positive rate. For example: foreign passports

Holding a foreign passport is not evidence that you are not a U.S. citizen.
posted by oaf at 9:12 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Our entire criminal justice system is (purportedly) based on the notion innocent-until-proven-guilty. Let's try that

Part of the problem here is that we're not talking about the criminal justice system. This is a regulatory process in which the accused have no right to an attorney if they can't afford one. Their cases get put on a conveyor belt through an administrative hearing and unless an appeal is filed (without a lawyer, written English, or sometimes even full mental abilities?), they get put on a plane.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:23 PM on May 21, 2009


The method of identification should be 100% accurate

Then the logical extension of those facts is some form of biometric identification.

I was kind of being a smart ass up above, but people, in any large body of data there will be errors. No amount of being careful is going to prevent that any more than it's going to make a perpetual motion machine. It's not happening.

But this theoretical information theory limit is irrelevant in much the same way that the speed of light is irrelevant to whether or not your car needs a new oxygen sensor.

If a national biometric data base was started up, here's how it would play out: An ass load of money would be given to the lowest bidder to pump out a system. It would be late, have staggering cost overruns and be about as secure as writing your password on your forehead with a sharpie marker. Finally it would be out and there would be a mad scramble to get everyone into the new giant data base. When all was said and done, we'd be lucky to have a system that's as accurate as reading goat entrails.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:45 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's that sinking feeling I sometimes get with Metafilter threads, when I know people come in who haven't RTFA. I have that sinking feeling with this thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Indeed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:35 AM on May 22, 2009


Holding a foreign passport is not evidence that you are not a U.S. citizen.

Oh, it's evidence, it's just not proof. There are at most about 5 million people with dual US/other citizenship and let's say 6.4 billion non-US people in the world. If someone holds a foreign passport, there's a 99.92% chance that they are a non-US citizen rather than a dual citizen.

So it's not proof, but it's very strong evidence, which can and should be coupled with other evidence. For example, we should contact that foreign government and ask if they have any records of where the person was person and the citizenship of the parents or if they have any records indicating that the person holds US citizenship.

My rule of thumb was 100 illegal immigrants being allowed in for every one deported citizen. 99.92% is well within that - 1 in 1250. (Albeit I'll grant that the true probability probably isn't that low, given that large numbers of people in the world have no passport at all, and many that do never travel to the US, whereas dual citizens may be presumed to travel to the US more frequently. I don't think it would throw the numbers off by more than order of magnitude, though, which would still leave 1 in 125)
posted by jedicus at 6:45 AM on May 22, 2009


Oh, it's evidence, it's just not proof.

It's not evidence in that holding a foreign passport has no real bearing on whether you're a U.S. citizen or not, unless it's one of those countries like India or Japan that bans dual citizenship.

Given that U.S. citizens are required to use their U.S. passports to enter the U.S., actually entering the U.S. on a foreign passport might be indicative that they're not a U.S. citizen (and why would you do this, anyway? I don't think our border guards are nicer to foreigners).

I'll say it again: the fact that someone has been issued a non-U.S. passport raises no legitimate suspicion that they are not a U.S. citizen.
posted by oaf at 8:01 AM on May 22, 2009


I'll say it again: the fact that someone has been issued a non-U.S. passport raises no legitimate suspicion that they are not a U.S. citizen.

A lesson in probability, then. There are about 15 million illegal immigrants living in the US, so the prior probability that a random person physically in the US is here illegally is about 4.8% (15 million illegal immigrants / 315 million total people in the US).

Assume for the benefit of your argument that every dual citizen is also physically in the US. Assume for the benefit of my argument that all illegal immigrants and dual citizens have documentation of their true citizenship(s). If the random person now produces evidence of foreign citizenship, then they are now in the illegal immigrant + dual citizen pool. Thus, the probability that they are here illegally jumps to 75% (15 million / 20 million).

A fact that changes the probability from 4.8% to 75% is pretty strong evidence. Is it proof? No. But it's definitely relevant evidence, and I would consider a 75% probability to be a 'legitimate suspicion' adequate to begin an investigation. Is it, to my mind, adequate evidence for deportment? No, I would want at least 99% certainty, as stated above.
posted by jedicus at 11:23 AM on May 22, 2009


That's a lesson in how probability doesn't work.
posted by oaf at 11:45 AM on May 22, 2009


And besides, it doesn't refute my earlier statement: the fact that someone has had a non-U.S. passport issued to them is not valid evidence of lack of U.S. citizenship.
posted by oaf at 11:47 AM on May 22, 2009


That's a lesson in how probability doesn't work.

Then explain the error in my math.

And besides, it doesn't refute my earlier statement: the fact that someone has had a non-U.S. passport issued to them is not valid evidence of lack of U.S. citizenship.

The chance of being an illegal immigrant goes from 4.8% to 75%. Unless there is an error in my math, which you have only claimed and not demonstrated, a foreign passport is relevant evidence. The existence of the foreign passport has a tendency to make a fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action (i.e., the non-US citizenship of the person in question) more probable than it would be without the evidence. F.R.E. 401. Furthermore, the passport would be admissible in court as a self-authenticating document under F. R. E. 902(3). US v. Pluta, 176 F.3d 43 (2d Cir. 1999) (See paragraph 28 on).
posted by jedicus at 12:13 PM on May 22, 2009


Then explain the error in my math.

I suppose there's not an error in the math, but there's almost no validity in its application. Your numbers are all guesses. Hence, that's how probability doesn't work.

Unless there is an error in my math, which you have only claimed and not demonstrated, a foreign passport is relevant evidence.

Unless there's an error in your math…or your guess as to how many dual citizens are present in the U.S., or your guess as to how many dual citizens have foreign passports, or your guess as to how many illegal immigrants have passports with them in the U.S., or your guess as to how likely U.S. citizens with other citizenships are to have interactions with immigration officials…

The chance of being an illegal immigrant goes from 4.8% to 75%.

Given that the overwhelming majority of "evidence" for this claim of yours is based on guesswork, it's safe to say that you don't know what you're talking about.

Plus, this assumes that everybody we're examining is silent on the issue of U.S. citizenship. If they actually assert U.S., then the foreign passport is irrelevant. As I have already said at least twice now.
posted by oaf at 12:38 PM on May 22, 2009


assert U.S. citizenship
posted by oaf at 12:38 PM on May 22, 2009


your guess as to how many dual citizens are present in the U.S.

I used the highest estimate I could find, and for the benefit of your argument I put them all in the US. If that estimate is wrong, then it is almost certainly in my favor.

your guess as to how many illegal immigrants have passports with them in the U.S.

Passports or other foreign status documentation. Presumably a foreign birth certificate, driver's license, or other identification would also suffice to affect the probability.

your guess as to how likely U.S. citizens with other citizenships are to have interactions with immigration officials

I'm not entirely sure how that enters into it, but I gave dual citizens the same prior probability as illegal immigrants (i.e., I didn't weight it either way). Unless dual citizens are actually more likely to have deportation-oriented interactions with ICE, which is what is at issue here, then that actually goes in my favor. In any case, the number of illegal immigrants outstrips the number of dual citizens by about 3:1, so all other things being equal a dual citizen would have to be fully 3 times more likely to interact with ICE than an illegal immigrant for the presence of a foreign status document to lose its relevance or shift to affecting the probability in the other direction.

So, yes my number are estimates, but I would have to be wrong by pretty large factors for the overall conclusion to be wrong. Do you have any better numbers? Numbers that are so different from mine that they actually invalidate the conclusion? I don't mind being proven wrong.
posted by jedicus at 1:05 PM on May 22, 2009


So, yes my number are estimates, but I would have to be wrong by pretty large factors for the overall conclusion to be wrong.

This is false.
posted by oaf at 1:15 PM on May 22, 2009


Please adjust your guess to include the number of dual U.S./other citizens who will disavow their U.S. citizenship when asked. If that doesn't make it crystal-clear that having a foreign passport in their name doesn't point to a given person being illegal, I suppose nothing will.
posted by oaf at 1:20 PM on May 22, 2009


This is false.

You have stated there is no flaw in the math as such, just the underlying estimates. Therefore, it is the case that the estimates would have to be off by large factors (2 or 3x) to change the conclusion. If you can't provide better numbers or demonstrate a flaw in the math, I don't see why anyone would be persuaded. You're just saying "no, you're wrong." Without more, that's not an argument, just gainsaying.

Please adjust your guess to include the number of dual U.S./other citizens who will disavow their U.S. citizenship when asked.

If a mentally competent dual citizen knowingly disavows his or her US citizenship in a deportation proceeding, then I don't see why he or she shouldn't be deported. It's not the government's job to prove that he or she is in fact a US citizen despite his or her protestations to the contrary. That's like saying that a defendant who confesses to a crime shouldn't be found guilty unless the prosecution proves the defendant isn't lying about the confession.

Furthermore, perhaps you could provide some evidence showing that the number of such people is significant, since it seems highly irrational for a dual citizen to disavow US citizenship if doing so means being deported.
posted by jedicus at 1:36 PM on May 22, 2009


perhaps you could provide some evidence showing that the number of such people is significant

My point is that nobody would do that. If someone is silent about their U.S. citizenship, or claims U.S. citizenship, the foreign passport is irrelevant; the government can't legitimately use foreign passports as evidence that someone can be deported.
posted by oaf at 3:21 PM on May 22, 2009


What I'm trying to get at is that if ICE discovers that someone claims U.S. citizenship, they are obligated to verify the presence or absence of said citizenship before attempting to deport someone illegally. The type and number of passports held by the person in question is irrelevant.
posted by oaf at 3:25 PM on May 22, 2009


What I'm trying to get at is that if ICE discovers that someone claims U.S. citizenship, they are obligated to verify the presence or absence of said citizenship before attempting to deport someone illegally. The type and number of passports held by the person in question is irrelevant.

You may want that to be the case as a policy matter, but according to the law as it exists today you are wrong.

"Passports are evidence of citizenship, but they are not conclusive. They may be overcome by sufficient evidence that the holder of the passport is not a citizen of the issuing country....[T]he presumption of citizenship based upon an alien's possession of a passport from a given country may be overcome by sufficient evidence to the contrary." Palavra v. INS, 287 F.3d 690, 692 (8th Cir. 2002)
posted by jedicus at 3:50 PM on May 22, 2009


Forgive me for interrupting, but jeez, nice citation!
posted by snsranch at 4:03 PM on May 22, 2009


jedicus, U.S. citizens (and dual citizens) aren't aliens. But nice try.
posted by oaf at 7:30 PM on May 22, 2009


jedicus, U.S. citizens (and dual citizens) aren't aliens. But nice try.

No, they aren't, but that's not what the court said. Let me break it down:

"Passports are evidence of citizenship, but they are not conclusive. They may be overcome by sufficient evidence that the holder of the passport is not a citizen of the issuing country."

This part applies to everyone, alien or otherwise. For example, holding a US passport is evidence, but not conclusive evidence, that the holder is a US citizen.

"[T]he presumption of citizenship based upon an alien's possession of a passport from a given country may be overcome by sufficient evidence to the contrary."

Along those same lines, the holder of a foreign passport, such as the defendant in the Palavra case, is presumed to be an alien.
posted by jedicus at 8:18 PM on May 22, 2009


"[T]he presumption of citizenship based upon an alien's possession of a passport from a given country may be overcome by sufficient evidence to the contrary."

I took that to mean that just because he has a British passport, doesn't mean Pytr Ivanovich shouldn't be shipped back to Russia. Passports can be faked: don't trust them exclusively. Sensible advice from a commonsense judge.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 PM on May 22, 2009


Is the scourge of illegal immigration such that it is more desirable to wrongly deport people and hold citizens in jail for years without habeas corpus?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:51 PM on May 22, 2009


the holder of a foreign passport, such as the defendant in the Palavra case, is presumed to be an alien.

In the absence of all other evidence, yes. If the person in question claims to be a U.S. citizen, ICE has a duty to investigate that claim.

Let's say John has two passports, and he gets into an airplane that's flying into the U.S. from abroad. At some point during the flight, his U.S. passport is lost or stolen. He arrives at customs, showing his foreign passport to confirm my identity, but immediately tells the agent that he's a U.S. citizen and that he's lost my passport en route.

They can fine John for entering the U.S. with the wrong passport, but if they deport him without verifying that he's not a U.S. citizen, they're ignoring the law, having been given evidence that John might be a U.S. citizen and tossing it aside.
posted by oaf at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2009


his identity
posted by oaf at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2009


also his passport—I'm a citizen of the U.S. only, so this situation couldn't happen with me, but I know people this could happen to.
posted by oaf at 10:56 AM on May 23, 2009


I think the most disturbing thing about that article is that U.S. citizens have been sent out of the U.S. with paperwork barring them from the country. Most of them probably don't know that such orders aren't enforceable, barring the repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment. I was born in the U.S.; I can't be denied entry unless there's some supervening issue (the border's closed, I have Ebola, etc.).
posted by oaf at 10:59 AM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not the government's job to prove that he or she is in fact a US citizen despite his or her protestations to the contrary. That's like saying that a defendant who confesses to a crime shouldn't be found guilty unless the prosecution proves the defendant isn't lying about the confession.

In fact, investigators get false confessions all the time in high profile cases and rarely rush to even arrest, much less convict, those confessing. I think this attitude of "If you can't prove you're a citizen, then tough luck" when it comes to deporting undocumented aliens is strange. The only explanation I can find is that for political purposes a certain level of hysteria has been promoted over this issue and folks bought into the notion that it's some huge problem that requires draconian measures to address. It is analogous to the terrorism/torture axis of evil.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:23 PM on May 25, 2009


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