As part of the agency’s ongoing detention reform the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced its first Public Advocate position that is supposed to “serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, non-governmental organizations and other community and advocacy groups, who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise.”
“As our first Public Advocate, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait will work to expand and enhance our dialogue with the stakeholder community,” said ICE Director John Morton in a statement. “We want the public to know that they have a representative at this agency whose sole duty is to ensure their voice is heard and their interests are recognized, and I’m confident Andrew will serve the community well in this capacity.”
“This is part of the other package of reforms the Obama administration is taking up to address ICE abuses, including the cases of U.S. citizens who are mistakenly detained by immigration authorities,” said Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter. “My sense though is that the appointment is a largely symbolic gesture that won’t get to the root of the problems with ICE’s rampant racial profiling and mistaken detention of U.S. citizens.”
Lorenzen-Strait has served with ICE since 2008, first as an advisor and analyst on policies related to immigration enforcement, detention and juveniles and most recently, as the senior advisor for Enforcement and Removal Operation’s (ERO) detention management division.
Recently ICE also established an 1-800 hotline for detainees claiming U.S. Advocates say ICE would do better to halt programs like Secure Communities than patch things up with these sorts of minor reforms.