Thursday, June 18, 2015
DHS Needs a Mechanism to Evaluate the use of Prosecutorial DiscretionRoth says the department agrees to the recommendations and that DHS is working on strategies to make improvements, all of which will be presented to the Inspector General's Office.
As DHS moves forward and revisits immigration policies and programs, it should ensure it can support its decisions with solid data. Once the Department implements a plan to consistently collect and maintain reliable prosecutorial discretion data, it should develop a mechanism to monitor and get feedback on the use of prosecutorial discretion to make sure the correct decisions are being made. Such a mechanism would help DHS accurately assess the results of policy decisions and make needed changes.
A feedback mechanism for the use of prosecutorial discretion could help DHS identify gaps, set goals, determine budget requirements, and provide information to improve program performance. In terms of overall immigration enforcement policy, such a mechanism could help compare the results of changes to the policy to goals and objectives, identify needed improvements, and develop sound future programs and policies.
In addition to assisting in the overall policy-making process, capturing the right information would allow the Department to ensure the proper and evenhanded application of the policies that do exist. As it stands now, there is no mechanism by which to assess the reasonableness of an individual officer’s exercise of discretion, to compare prosecutorial discretion decisions for similarly situated aliens, or to compare the use of prosecutorial discretion by various field offices. This data, if collected, could also be used to evaluate the performance of individual officers or field offices.
Uneven or inconsistent policy enforcement can have a negative effect on DHS’ immigration enforcement mission.
Here, because the Department does not collect data on, much less monitor, the use of prosecutorial discretion, we are unable to determine whether the Department is using prosecutorial discretion consistently or fairly.
DHS Needs Better Access to Aliens’ Criminal History
During our audit, we identified a data access issue that may impede sound prosecutorial discretion decisions. ICE field office personnel said they are not always able to access aliens’ criminal histories in their countries of origin. As a result, aliens convicted of or wanted for a felony committed in their home country, but not convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor in the United States may not be placed in or may inadvertently be taken out of the removal process. The information components use to make prosecutorial discretion decisions was beyond the scope of our audit; however, we encourage the Department to address this potential issue and take corrective action as necessary.
Tags: department of homeland security , immigration and customs enforcement , us citizenship and immigration services , customs and border protection , prosecutorial discretion , inspector general , john roth