The ICE man cometh, prompting a new look at E-Verify

The ICE man cometh, prompting a new look at E-Verify
Top Seattle ICE official charged with stealing immigrants’ identities
nAASEATTLE (AP) — The chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle has been charged with stealing immigrants’ identities.

Raphael A. Sanchez, who resigned from the agency effective Monday, faces one count of aggravated identity theft and another of wire fraud in a charging document filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section allege that Sanchez stole the identities of seven people “in various stages of immigration proceedings” to defraud credit card companies including American Express, Bank of America and Capital One.

The Washington Post notes that ICE agents in the state have been active in President Trump’s immigration crackdown: “They arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants in September’s ‘Operation Safe City’ operation, a four-day effort in which the administration targeted ‘sanctuary cities’ around the country, including Seattle, where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”

Neither Sanchez nor his lawyer, Cassandra Stamm, immediately returned emails seeking comment Tuesday.

According to court rules, the type of charging document filed in Sanchez’s case — called an information — can be filed only when a defendant has agreed to waive his or her right to be indicted by a grand jury; it’s typically an indication that a plea agreement is in the works. The court’s calendar showed that Sanchez is due to enter a plea Thursday.

The charging document contained few specifics about the allegations, but did give one example: It said that in April 2016, Sanchez sent an email from his government account to his Yahoo account that included personal information pertaining to a Chinese national identified only as R.H. The information Sanchez sent included an image of R.H.’s U.S. permanent resident card, the biographical page of R.H.’s Chinese passport and a utility bill in R.H.’s name.

Sanchez is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. The AP explains that the charging document in Sanchez’s case is used when the defendant has waived his right to be indicted by a grand jury, indicating that a plea agreement is likely.

Pressing prisons and jails to violate the 4th Amendment isn’t part of ICE’s job description

One of the tools in the federal government’s immigration enforcement kit is the detainer — a written request by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to a state prison or local jail to hold a person suspected of being in the country illegally for up to 48 hours beyond his or her scheduled release. ICE makes the requests to give immigration agents time to go pick up the person for possible deportation.

Data in the “Fiscal Year 2017 ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report” show that ICE served administrative arrests on 143,470 people between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017—that is, arrests for a civil violation of immigration laws. Of them, around 128,000 people (89 percent) had at least one prior conviction or had criminal charges pending, while around 15,000 people (11 percent) had a clean record.

But, as a federal judge recently told the federal government — again — holding someone without charge or a court order violates the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable seizure.

ICE Lawyer Charged With Stealing Immigrants’ Identities To Commit Bank Fraud

Every person physically present in the U.S. enjoys the protections of the Constitution regardless of immigration status.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency arrested more than 140,000 people in 2017 following the Trump administration’s new push to target immigrants with known criminal charges and convictions. But more than a quarter of the undocumented immigrants’ previous charges were related to traffic offenses, according to data released by the agency. 

The most recent decision came in a lawsuit over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s involvement in the Secure Communities program, which the Obama administration created and then abandoned, but which the Trump administration has revived. (The county no longer takes part in Secure Communities.) Under the program, local jails cooperate with ICE in identifying people held in county jails who might be in the country illegally, and then hold those inmates for up to 48 hours if ICE sends a detainer requesting it.

Legal experts and advocates had expressed concerns over immigrants being targeted over nonviolent offences after President Donald Trump signed his administration’s “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” executive order on January 25, 2017, which cracks down on undocumented immigrants. 

That is wrong. Anti-immigration folks tend to stuff their fingers in their ears when this part of the issue comes up, but every person physically present in the U.S. enjoys the protections of the Constitution regardless of immigration status. A tourist accused of shoplifting is entitled to the same due process rights as an American citizen, including access to a government-paid lawyer if the accused can’t afford one. Neither a citizen nor an immigrant should be incarcerated if there are no charges against them.

“Under President’s Trump’s Executive Orders, however, priorities are out the window,” she said. “ICE is now directed to prioritize any immigrant who has been convicted of any criminal offense. This means an immigrant with minor traffic violation convictions is now a priority,” she warned. 
Top Seattle ICE official charged with stealing immigrants' identities
Top Seattle ICE official charged with stealing immigrants’ identities

Immigration law is primarily a civil matter, not a criminal matter. Although it is a crime to sneak into the U.S. without permission, simply being here without a visa or other document is not a criminal act. Notably, many undocumented immigrants enter the country legally but then never leave, a violation of civil codes. And local police do not have the authority to jail someone over a suspected civil violation. A detainer letter from ICE is a nonbinding request and falls far short of the authority a court order. So every time a local jail or state prison honors an ICE detainer that is not based on an arrest warrant or court order and fails to release an inmate who has qualified for bail or served out a court-imposed sentence, local officials violate the inmate’s constitutional rights.

The federal government knows this, and local governments should too, because violating constitutional rights is not just wrong, it’s expensive for taxpayers. A 2014 ruling in Oregon cost Clackamas County $30,100 plus Maria Miranda-Olivares’ legal costs because the county jail, honoring an ICE detainer, refused to let her sister post $500 bail set by a county judge. (Miranda-Olivares was accused of violating a restraining order.) In 2014, Utah’s Salt Lake County paid former inmate Enrique Uroza $75,000 to settle a lawsuit after the sheriff, acting on an immigration detainer, refused to release Uroza even though the defendant had posted bail on an unrelated criminal charge. Again, the prolonged detention the result of a criminal accusation, but because of the civil immigration request, which has no legal force. In fact, there have been at least 14 such cases since 2011, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

We’d hope the government would learn from these decisions — or that the courts would issue an injunction that could be enforced nationwide — and stop such blatant violations of the 4th Amendment. This is not part of the so-called “sanctuary city” policies the Trump administration likes to complain about. No person, regardless of legal status, should be deprived of freedom purely on the say-so of a government agency.

It should also be noted that a number of people jailed under ICE detainers are, in fact, U.S. citizens or people living here with permission. NPR reported that from 2007 to 2017, about 700 U.S. citizens were held in jails or prisons after their release dates because ICE investigators misidentified them as noncitizens without legal status (another 820 were picked up elsewhere and held in immigration detention centers until they could prove their citizenship). Ending the use of warrantless detainers would help reduce that.

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