The U.S. immigration system is cloaked in a blanket of secrecy that isn’t lifted even when life is at risk, says the Boston Globe. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and its sister agencies have emerged as the largest law enforcement network in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and they are increasingly dealing with criminals, but they play by rules very different from those used by local police, prosecutors, or even the FBI. ICE does not notify most crime victims when a criminal is released, and local law enforcement is told only on a case-by-case basis.
Foreigners in immigration detention have fewer rights than ordinary criminal suspects and limited ability to get word to the outside world about their plight. A young woman with no criminal record died in immigration custody of a heart ailment without a chance to ask a judge for medical help; a Cuban man in a wheelchair languished for 14 years in immigration detention, invisible to the world outside. ICE routinely releases dangerous detainees without warning the public. Over 4 years, the agency has largely without notice freed more than 8,500 detainees convicted of murder, rape, and other crimes, mainly because their home countries would not take them back.