Audit: ICE officers lack training, lose track of undocumented immigrants

Posted at 6:54 AM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 11:01:51-04

DENVER -- A government audit reports ICE agents are not getting enough training and are losing track of undocumented immigrants. 

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General conducted an audit at ICE offices in Atlanta, St. Paul, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The visits took place from June 2016 to October 2016. The audit focuses on people who are out of detention facilities. 

The report shows deportation officers are overseeing 1,700 to 10,000 cases of people waiting to have an immigration hearing. ICE personnel agreed that the workloads are unmanageable, yet ICE has not tried to determine what is achievable and what would alleviate the burden.

Training is an issue in the agency, too. The audit says deportation policies and procedures are outdated and unclear. Per ICE staff, deportation officers don't get enough training to help them supervise and deport non-detained undocumented immigrants. 

"Issues with training, issues of resources, the number of cases that each officer is required to handle. I'm not surprised to see those findings in the report," said immigration attorney David Kolko.

Kolko has been a practicing immigration attorney for nearly two decades. He said this has been a problem for years. 

"The volume of cases that are going on right now is really astounding, and the resources that ICE has been dealing with, along with the resources of immigration courts, have really been strained," said Kolko.

Acting ICE Press Secretary Jennifer Elzea responded to the audit by providing Denver7 with the following statement: 

ICE remains committed to implementing safeguards to ensure that its deportation operations are executed in a way that promotes public safety and protects our communities. ICE continues to strengthen and improve relationships with state and local law enforcement partners and to work directly with both foreign governments and with other government entities to improve cooperation with countries with whom we have encountered challenges in the past regarding repatriating their nationals.

ICE has more than 2.3 million people on its non-detained docket and around 1.9 million of that are non-criminals. ICE prioritizes cases with people who are the greatest threat to national security, public safety and border security. 

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January to hire an additional 10,000 ICE agents and officers. 

ICE said they'll revise and update its policies and procedures to address any gaps and outdated information. The agency will have deportation officers and agents undergo additional training. 

Denver7 reached out to the OIG wanting to know if any problems exist at the ICE field office in Denver, but we have not heard back. 

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