Department of Homeland Security officials (DHS) rejected an official request for information about illegal immigrants arrested and deported in California. Officials claim that the privacy rights of the deportees out weight the need to know by law enforcement, even though that information could be used to help deter the flow of illegals coming across the border.
In May 2010 program, program called Operation Joint Effort, was started as a pilot program partnering immigration agents and police officers in Escondido Ca, to arrest and deport criminal illegal immigrants. Law enforcement officials from both agencies have praised the partnership, saying it has helped rid the city of hundreds of illegal immigrants who had previous criminal convictions or who had been ordered deported by an immigration judge. However critics, including local immigrant and civil rights groups, have said the program creates distrust between the city’s immigrant community and the Police Department.
The North County Times filed a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with ICE in October 2011 asking for the names, dates of birth and the charges filed against each of those individuals. The same kind of information that readily available to the public under state law for any individual who is arrested by a local police department.
ICE denied the North County Times’ request in a July 3 letter that said under federal law, the names of individuals detained for immigration violations is generally not considered public information for law enforcement and privacy reasons. “The (Freedom of Information Act) protects records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes that could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” according to the letter. “This exemption takes particular note of the strong interests of individuals, whether they are suspects, witnesses, or investigators in not being unwarrantably associated with alleged criminal activity.”
The stance drew sharp criticism from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. In a written statement Issa said “It’s indefensible that criminal illegal aliens are being given privacy rights that arrested U.S. citizens might not receive. The Department of Homeland Security’s FOIA operation has been plagued with interference from Obama administration political appointees. I am concerned that their involvement may have contributed to the inadequate response to this legitimate request for information.”
It is “indefensible” when illegal immigrants have more rights to privacy than American citizens. Once again the Obama administration has shown it’s disdain of the American people.