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Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

US Deports 380,000 Illegal Immigrants

Posted by admin On August - 12 - 2010 3 COMMENTS

Obama to Increase Border Patrols

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported 380,000 illegal immigrants from the U.S. in the last fiscal year. About one third of the deportees were convicted criminals. In the last seven months, since the start of 2010, some 136,000 illegal immigrants who are convicted criminals have been deported.

In an interview with Yahoo News on Thursday August 12, 2010, ICE Director John Morton said it was the most illegal immigrants the federal government has deported from the U.S. than ever before.

“For those who doubt the federal government’s resolve in the enforcement of immigration law, let me say this: We are committed to strong, effective immigration enforcement, and the facts speak for themselves,” he said. “Is there more work to be done? Absolutely. Is the problem a significant one, a challenging one for the nation? Absolutely, but we’re in this for the long haul. … We’re going to get this right.”

AP – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton speaks about immigration enforcement at a news conference in Phoenix on Thursday. U.S. Marshal David Gonzales is at left. AP photo taken from Yahoo News site.

Morton told Yahoo News that Border staffing was at an all-time high and will only increase under a $600 million plan by President Barack Obama to put more agents and equipment along the Mexican border.

The measure, which Obama plans to sign soon is expected to provide funding for the hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas along the border, 250 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and 250 more Customs and Border Protection officers.

The move follows criticisms from politicians and citizens in the U.S.A. who claimed that the federal government was not doing its job despite the increased efforts and deportations.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had cited government’s inaction as a reason for introducing the state’s new immigration law which sparked a national illegal immigration debate. The law became effective on July 29, 2010 after a judge had ruled to block its most controversial sections, including a section that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. Brewer has appealed the Judge’s decision and said she was prepared to take it to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Speaking about the ICE’s work in Arizona, Morton told Yahoo News that during an average week, his agency removed some 1,500 illegal immigrants from the state, arrested five human smugglers, investigated three drop houses, inspected the employment records of 526 people working for state companies and had seized a ton of marijuana.

With respect to Arizona’s new law, Morton said ICE was already working with state and local agencies to combat illegal immigration, and that “we don’t think that 50 different immigration enforcement regimes is the answer.”

He reiterated that the answer was uniform federal immigration reform.

“You’ve got to have comprehensive reform that recognizes a need for strong border security, a need for strong interior enforcement, but also a means for families and workers to come here lawfully … and an ability for people who’ve been here for a very long time to get right with the law by paying a fine and learning English and paying their taxes, and getting to the back of the line,” Morton told Yahoo News.

He also announced the results of a three-day statewide operation which he praised as the largest of its kind in Arizona. The operation, which ended on Wednesday evening (July 11, 2020), resulted in the arrest of 63 illegal immigrants who are convicted criminals and immigrants with outstanding orders of deportation who had failed to leave the country.

Some 25 have already been deported from the United States. A conviction of felony re-entry into the U.S. carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Illegal Immigrants in Fingerprint Trap

Posted by admin On July - 29 - 2010 6 COMMENTS

Group Fears it Will be Introduced in New York

Federal government is seeking to identify illegal immigrants using fingerprints from arrests.  The program, however, is drawing opposition from local authorities and advocates who feel it will result in an excessive dragnet that could result in the deportation of many immigrants.

After being arrested, suspects wait to be processed, some will have their immigration status checked. AP photo.

Although the program has gotten less attention than Arizona’s new immigration law it may end up having a bigger impact on society because of its potential to round up and deport immigrants nationwide.

The San Francisco sheriff  distanced himself from the program, and the City Council in Washington, D.C., blocked the fingerprint plan in the nation’s capital. Colorado is the latest to debate the program,  titled Secure Communities. Immigrant groups claim the initiative will make crime victims reluctant to cooperate with police “due to fear of being drawn into the immigration regime.”

According to the program, the fingerprints of everyone who is booked into jail for any crime will be run against FBI criminal history records and Department of Homeland Security immigration records to determine who’s in the country illegally and if they had any previous arrests. Most jurisdictions are not included in the program, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been expanding the initiative.

To date 467 jurisdictions in 26 states have joined. By 2013 ICE plans to have it operating in every jail in the country. Secure Communities is currently being phased into places the government considers as having the greatest need for it based on population estimates of illegal immigrants and crime statistics.

Since everyone arrested would be screened, the program could easily deport more people than Arizona’s new law, said Sunita Patel, an attorney who filed a lawsuit in New York against the federal government on behalf of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, an immigrant group worried that the program would soon be introduced in New York. She said illegal immigrants could be referred to ICE at the time of arrest, even before a conviction, adding that the program could create an incentive for profiling and a pipeline to deport more people.

The lawsuit seeks, among other things, statistical information about who has been deported as a result of the program and what they were arrested for. “It has the potential to revolutionize immigration enforcement,” said Patel.

Supporters of the program believe it will help to identify dangerous criminals who would otherwise go undetected. From October 27, 2008 to the end of May, near 2.6 million people have been screened under the Secure Communities program. Of those, almost 35,000 were identified as illegal immigrants previously arrested or convicted for the most serious crimes, including murder and rape, ICE said. More than 205,000 who were identified as illegal immigrants had arrest records for less serious crimes.

In Ohio, Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones praised the program, which was implemented in his jurisdiction earlier this month.

“It’s really a heaven-sent for us,” Jones said, adding that the program helps solve the problem police often have of not knowing whether someone they arrested has a criminal history and is in the country illegally.

“I don’t want them in my community,” Jones said. “I’ve got enough homegrown criminals here.”

Carl Rusnok, an ICE spokesman, said Secure Communities is a way for law enforcement to identify illegal immigrants after their arrest at no additional cost to local jurisdictions. Jones agreed.

“We arrest these people anyway,” he said. “All it does is help us deport people who shouldn’t be here.”

Rusnok said ICE created the program after Congress directed the agency to improve the way it identified and deported illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. Since 2008 ICE has received $550 million for the program, Rusnok said.

Rusnok said the only place he knows of that has requested not to be a part of Secure Communities is San Francisco, which began the program June 8. Eileen Hirst, the chief of staff for San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, said it happened “without our input or approval.”

Hirst said the sheriff thought Secure Communities cast too wide a net and worried that it would sweep up U.S. citizens and minor offenders, such as people who commit traffic infractions but miss their court hearings. Hirst also said the program goes against San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy that calls for authorities to only report foreign-born suspects booked for felonies.

“Now, we’re reporting every single individual who comes into our custody and gets fingerprinted,” Hirst said.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown denied Hennessey’s request to opt out. Brown said that prior to Secure Communities, illegal immigrants with criminal histories were often released before their status were discovered.

This month, Washington, D.C., police decided not to pursue the program because the City Council introduced a bill that would prohibit authorities from sharing arrest data with ICE out of concern for immigrants’ civil rights. Matthew Bromeland, special assistant to the police chief, said police wanted the program and were talking with ICE about how to address concerns from immigrant advocates before the bill forced them to halt negotiations.

Colorado officials became interested in the program after an illegal immigrant from Guatemala with a long criminal record was accused of causing a car crash at a suburban Denver ice-cream shop, killing two women in a truck and a 3-year-old inside the store. Authorities say the illegal immigrant, Francis M. Hernandez, stayed off ICE’s radar because he conned police with 12 aliases and two different dates of birth.

A task-force assembled after the crash recommended Secure Communities as a solution.

Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, said Ritter recognized that other states have had issues with the program and he wanted to take time to consider the concerns raised by immigrant rights groups before deciding “how or if to move forward.”

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition said in a letter to the governor that the Secure Communities is “inherently flawed and should not be implemented.” CIRC said one of its main concerns was  with cases of domestic violence, where both parties may be taken into custody while authorities investigate a case, victims may feel reluctant to report a crime out of fear that their illegal status will be discovered.

ICE maintains that only suspects arrested for crimes — and not the people reporting them — will be screened for their legal status.

9 States Support Arizona Immigration Law

Posted by admin On July - 16 - 2010 3 COMMENTS

More Support For Brewer

Police in nine other states could soon have the power to request documentation from suspected illegal immigrants.

That was made clear in a legal brief by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox on Wednesday on behalf of nine states supporting Arizona’s immigration law. He said each state has the authority to enforce immigration laws and protect their borders.

AFP – Phoenix residents protest against Arizona's immigration law near the White House in Washington, DC.

Cox, one of five Republicans running for Michigan governor, said Michigan, the lead state backing Arizona in federal court was joined by Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Arizona law, set to take effect on July 29, directs officers to question people about their immigration status during the enforcement of other laws such as traffic stops and if they suspect them of being in the U.S. illegally.

President Barack Obama’s administration recently filed suit in federal court to block it, arguing that immigration was a federal issue. The law’s backers said Congress was not doing anything meaningful about illegal immigration leaving the state to step up and do its duty.

“Arizona, Michigan and every other state have the authority to enforce immigration laws, and it is appalling to see President Obama use taxpayer dollars to stop a state’s efforts to protect its own borders,” Cox said in a statement.

Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, in a statement released by Cox’s office, said she was thankful for the support.

Cox said the nine states supporting Arizona represented “a lot of states,” considering it was only Monday that he had asked other state attorneys general to join him. The brief was filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona on the same day as the deadline for such filings.

“By lawsuit, rather than by legislation, the federal government seeks to negate this preexisting power of the states to verify a person’s immigration status and similarly seeks to reject the assistance that the states can lawfully provide to the Federal government,” the brief stated.

Earlier this year, he joined with more than a dozen other attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of federal health care changes signed into law by the Democratic president.

As with his stance on health care, the immigration brief again placed Cox at odds with Democratic Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is unable to seek re-election because of term limits. She, however, disagreed with the Arizona law, her press secretary Liz Boyd said.

“It’s a patently political ploy in his quest for the Republican nomination for governor,” Boyd said.