A new lawsuit, from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), reveals that software used by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office helps keep low-risk immigrants locked up, when the tool would supposedly recommend releases within 48 hours, after analyzing several risk factors.
The tool is not new. It was implemented in 2013, but its negative results towards undocumented immigrants have increased 97% during the administration of President Donald Trump, several citations by The Intercept indicate.
ACLU filed a lawsuit jointly with the Defenders of The Bronx, where it is alleged that the algorithm does not make a decision, but is used as a way to justify the detention of immigrants, even when the authorities consider that person to be low public safety risk. The lawsuit requests that the ICE “Risk Classification Assessment” tool be declared illegal and that detained immigrants, evaluated by the software, be reevaluated by humans, to determine their possible release.
The portal cites that between 2013 and 2017, according to FOIA data, the algorithm recommended detention without bail for 53 percent, but since June 2017 that number increased to 97 percent.
“This dramatic drop in the release rate comes at a time when exponentially more people are being arrested in the New York City area,” says the lawsuit. “Immigration officials have expanded the arrests of those not convicted of crimes.”
The most affected are immigrants who do not represent a risk of escape nor are they a safety hazard.