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Monday, February 15, 2010

"Used, Abused and Tossed": informants and immigration

Here's part 3 of the NPR series on informants--this one focuses on how ICE sometimes uses non-citizens as informants and then lets them be deported once they are no longer useful: Retired Drug Informant Says He Was Burned (NPR), and Informants can greatly aid US authories but still face deportation (LA Times). Deportation poses special dangers to informants, who may be killed upon returning to their home countries, in much the same way that domestic informants face special dangers in local jails and prisons or even on the streets. The government is under little legal obligation to protect its sources. For example, after he gave his FBI handler a tip, Charles Shuler was shot and paralyzed because the FBI blew his cover. A court dismissed Shuler's lawsuit, ruling that the FBI did not owe him protection. Stories like these reflect the more general phenomenon that informants who lack counsel, education, or other resources are often vulnerable to official exploitation.