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Immigrant Deportations Focusing More on Criminals

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported 350,000 people so far this year, more than half of whom had criminal convictions, the Sacramento Bee reports today. This is a change from 2008, when the numbers were skewed toward non-criminal deportations. The trend seems to indicate that the agency has moved toward its stated goal of targeting illegal immigrants considered dangerous to ensure it is making the most of its limited resources.

ICE Chief John Morton said the agency has the funds to deport about 400,000 people per year.

The Bee has a useful graph showing deportation trends since 2006:

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Deportations_SB.jpgSource: Sacramento Bee

The increase in overall deportations can in part be attributed to Secure Communities, a fingerprint-sharing program between local police and federal immigration authorities. The program has been controversial among immigrant rights advocates and some law enforcement leaders, who argue it forces local police to take on the federal responsibility of immigration enforcement.

Although the number seems to be trending downward, a large number of non-criminals and non-dangerous illegal immigrants are caught in the system, which critics argue decreases trust in police among immigrant populations. Even if those arrested are released, their information is still turned over to ICE.

Conservative groups argue all illegal immigrants should be part of ICE’s priorities:

“We can and should have more deportations,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He said ICE’s focus on deporting the most violent criminals is “like putting up a speed limit sign on the highway that only applies if you are driving drunk or have guns in your car.”

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