Resources

  • SNITCHING: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice
  • U.S. Attorney General's Guidelines on the FBI's Use of Confidential Human Sources
  • Sarah Stillman, The Throwaways, The New Yorker (2012) (article on the use of juvenile informants)

Recent Blog Posts

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

ICE marks 17-year-old informant for deportation and death

ProPublica and New York Magazine published this story about Henry, a teenager in Brentwood, Long Island, who agreed to inform on his MS-13 gang to the FBI.  The federal government then decided to deport him back to El Salvador, leaving him unprotected against the gang:  A Betrayal:  The teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death.  From the story:

"Under normal circumstances, Henry’s choice would have been his salvation. By working with the police, he could have escaped the gang and started fresh. But not in the dawning of the Trump era, when every immigrant has become a target and local police in towns like Brentwood have become willing agents in a nationwide campaign of detention and deportation."

For other instances where the government has failed to protect immigrant informants, see these posts.

More broadly, the government often pressures or incentivizes immigrants to give information which is then used to deport them.  This law review article surveys the law, and argues that such policies are counterproductive: Amanda Frost, Can the Government Deport Immigrants Using Information it Encouraged Them to Provide?  Administrative Law Review, Vol. 2, No. 97, 2017. Here is the abstract:

"This Essay describes the legal and policy issues raised by any systematic effort to deport unauthorized immigrants based on information the government invited them to provide. Part I briefly surveys some of the major laws, regulations, and programs that encourage unauthorized immigrants to identify themselves. Part II analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the statutory and constitutional arguments that immigrants could raise as a defense against deportations based on self-reported data. Part III explains that even if the government’s systematic use of such data to deport unauthorized immigrants is legal, doing so would be a poor policy choice for any administration, even one that seeks to drastically increase deportations. The federal government has always balanced immigration enforcement against other goals and values, such as deterring crime, protecting wages and working conditions, collecting taxes, and preventing U.S. citizen children from being separated from their parents. Deporting immigrants based on information provided in the service of these greater goals would elevate immigration enforcement over all other federal policies. Furthermore, doing so would almost immediately render these laws a dead letter, since no rational unauthorized immigrant would apply for visas or pay taxes if doing so were tantamount to self-deportation. Accordingly, any increase in removals from the use of such data is sure to be fleeting, while the damage done to immigrants’—and perhaps all citizens’—trust in the government will be permanent."