New Report Examining the Outcomes of ICE’s Secure Communities Program

Secure Communities by the Numbers, Revisited Analyzing the Analysis (Part 1 of 3)

“This report is the first in a series that will examine outcomes of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s Secure Communities program and how those outcomes have been misleadingly described in one widely circulated study.” The Immigration Policy Center states in the report that they believe “these misrepresentations, made in a paper titled ‘Secure Communities by the Numbers: An Analysis of Demographics and Due Process’, published by the Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, Law School, have been uncritically re-told by major news media outlets. It is also highlighted in the report summary that the findings are based on the same database of case histories that have been provided by ICE in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The findings of the report include:

• “Contrary to what the Warren Institute reported, the database contains no records of U.S. citizens who were detained by or for ICE. While there are six records for U.S. citizens in the data set, none were listed as having been detained or charged by ICE. Therefore, it is impossible to assert based on this data, as the authors do, that thousands of U.S. citizens, or any number of U.S. citizens, have been arrested by ICE through Secure Communities.”
• “The Warren Institute report contains serious methodological and interpretive errors that lead the writers to unsubstantiated conclusions and cast doubt on the credibility of the entire analysis. For example, the authors analyzed only 23 percent of the original random sample requested from ICE. For reasons they fail to explain, they excluded 1,275 of the 1,650 records in their random sample. This is a key issue because they claim, but fail to show, that this data is still representative of the Secure Communities program as a whole. Instead, we believe that their data decisions very likely introduced a significant degree of selection bias that skewed the results.”
• “Despite these flaws, which were not difficult to detect, the report’s findings were reported uncritically by a number of leading news outlets, most notably the New York Times. Moreover, these journalists did not note that the organizations that produced this report have been involved in national advocacy efforts to end Secure Communities and scale back immigration law enforcement.”
• “ICE’s failure to counter the report’s misleading statements is contributing to the spread of misconceptions about Secure Communities among the media, state and local leaders, and the public. This raises doubts as to the agency leaders’ commitment to full and effective implementation of the program.”
• “We agree with the Warren Institute authors on the issue of the need for improved transparency at ICE and its parent Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Nevertheless, we find that the authors should have made more of an effort to seek explanations from ICE for some of the obvious data integrity problems.”

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