Fewer Deportations Involve Criminal Charges
Being in the U.S. without being a citizen or having a green card or visa is a civil offense. Nevertheless, unlike those who commit other civil violations such as speeding or noise ordinances offenses, those who are in the country without documentation face arrest, detention and deportation. The Obama administration had vowed to step up efforts at deporting “criminal aliens,” those who are in the U.S. without papers and have committed criminal offenses. However, data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency suggests that deportations of those with criminal charges has actually declined in California and nationwide.
One of the initiatives that ICE has launched to address the problem of illegal immigrants committing crimes is called the Secure Communities program. The goal of the program is to install access to the federal immigration database in every jail in the country so that when officers arrest a person, they can check the suspect’s residency status by scanning his or her fingerprints. All of the counties in California are part of the Secure Communities program.
The government’s stated focus may be on “criminal aliens,” but a Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse analysis of ICE data revealed that the number of deportations involving those with criminal charges has actually declined for the past three years. ICE’s own report regarding deportation statistics showed fewer deportations involving criminal charges.
In California alone, only 15 percent of deportations involved criminal charges, down from 20 percent in 2009, according to TRAC. The number of deportation proceedings based on allegations of entering the country “without inspection” has jumped sharply to 53 percent of all cases in 2011 – an increase of over 2,000 cases from 2010.
Critics of ICE
Many argue that ICE’s Secure Communities program is targeting those who pose no threat, instead of working towards its supposed objective of removing those who commit crimes. Records from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network show that the Secure Communities program was actually catching more illegal immigrants with no criminal history than those with criminal records. Critics suggest that in order to meet the Obama administration’s stated goal of deporting 400,000 people annually, ICE officials have had to cast a broad net and look to more than those who have committed crimes.
Additionally, the deportations resulting from the Secure Communities program have had a devastating impact on those who are in the country legally. A report by the UC Berkley Law School showed that 40 percent of those arrested and deported as part of the Secure Communities program were either parents or spouses of U.S. citizens.
Consult an Attorney
Facing the possibility of deportation can be overwhelming. The possibility of being separated from loved ones can be devastating. If you or a family member is facing deportation, contact an experienced removal defense attorney.