The Verge: ICE rigged its algorithms to keep immigrants in jail, claims lawsuit

A new lawsuit claims Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rigged software to create a “secret no-release policy” for people suspected of breaking immigration laws. ICE’s New York office uses a risk assessment algorithm to recommend that an arrestee be released or detained until a hearing. But the New York Civil Liberties Union and Bronx Defenders say the algorithm was changed in 2015 and again in 2017, removing the ability to recommend release, even for arrestees who posed no threat.

The Risk Classification Assessment (RCA) analyzes a subject’s criminal history, family ties, and other data. Theoretically, it should reach a verdict of “detain” or “release” (with or without bail). Reuters reported in 2018, however, that ICE had removed the “release” option. Instead, the system could only recommend detention or refer the case to an ICE supervisor — who, the lawsuit says, would almost never order a release.

NYCLU and Bronx Defenders filed a public records request for more details, and yesterday, they used the resulting information to sue ICE’s New York field office. When the system was implemented in 2013, the suit notes, roughly 40 percent of people that immigration officers arrested were released with or without bond. Between 2017 and 2019, the number dropped below 3 percent. This coincided with a massive spike in arresting immigrants without criminal convictions who should have been more likely to qualify for release.

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