The way our current immigration enforcement system is run is inhuman and a terrible waste of taxpayer money. A fresh example of this egregious state of affairs comes out of Chicago, where Ricardo Rodriguez was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because he lost legal resident status after spending decades in jail for a murder that the state admits that he didn't commit.
The Chicago Tribune has the story. Rodriguez was convicted of a 1995 drive-by-shooting murder because of testimony from a corrupt Chicago detective who has now had 10 different convictions related to his cases tossed because of his record of violence and coercion against witnesses. Rodriguez was never connected to the murder by any physical evidence and he has always maintained his innocence.
This week, Rodriguez finally had the case against him dropped. He should have been released from custody and gone home to his family on Wednesday. But ICE nabbed him first and is now holding him in detention.
Before being sentenced to decades in prison based on police misconduct, Rodriguez had been a lawful permanent resident. He lost that status on account of his unjust conviction, and is thus now legally liable for deportation. He has lived in the U.S. since he was a child and his family is all here.
Chicago's Cook County is the national capital of wrongful convictions; according to "a wrongful conviction database maintained by the University of Michigan, at least 159 people have been freed from prison after being convicted in Cook County"—that number is higher than the same numbers for most states. (Rodriguez has also been popped twice for pot in the past, which ought not be cause for booting him from his home country under circumstances in which the government should owe him massive compensation, not deportation.)
Cook County Judge James Obbish, who had Rodriguez released for the murder conviction this week, said that the corrupt detective, Reynaldo Guevara, "has now eliminated the possibility of being considered a credible witness in any proceeding."
Still, that detective's criminal actions laid the groundwork to allow ICE to detain and possibly deport Rodriguez. Alas, that is not uncharacteristic of the agency. As Shikha Dalmia has previously reported for Reason, ICE has aimed its enforcement powers at its critics, the agency has a long record of dubious and unjust punitive enforcement efforts, and local authorities are actively pushing back against the many ways that ICE enforcement is harming their communities.