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Letter Sent to DHS to End ICE’s Discriminatory Gang Prioritization



April 1, 2021

Press contacts:
Elianne Ramos, [email protected], 212.739.7513
Rachel Cohen, [email protected], 917-370-8464


60+ Organizations Call on DHS Secretary to End ICE’s Discriminatory Gang Prioritization

NEW YORK, NY - Immigration and legal advocates are urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to end ICE’s prioritization of those labelled as gang-involved for detention as part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to racial equity and ending mass incarceration.

In a letter to Mayorkas, 69 organizations and legal scholars say ICE’s focus on so-called gang-affiliation is problematic because gang labelling is based on factors that are “highly vulnerable to discriminatory enforcement.” 

The letter calls on Mayorkas and the Biden Administration to end the prioritization of persons for detention and deportation who are labelled as gang-affiliated, as described in the Feb. 18th interim United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Priorities memorandum. 

The groups say:

Black, Latinx, and immigrant persons are grossly overrepresented among those labelled gang-affiliated by law enforcement.

The criteria for gang labelling are notoriously vague and thus ripe for arbitrary and

discriminatory application. 

Errors in gang databases have also been well documented. 

Prioritizing people with a “gang-related” conviction may well target non-gang members and individuals who plead out, not because of guilt, but rather because of the coercive force of RICO and similar charges used to prosecute people of color alleged to be gang-affiliated.



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