Blog Archive

Thursday, November 11, 2010

U.S. steps up deportation of criminal immigrants nationwide, in Northwest

By Lornet Turnbull
Seattle Times
November 10, 2010

The United States has continued to step up removal of criminal immigrants from across the nation and this region, even as its deportation of noncriminals declined.

The trend appears to support what has long been a stated goal of the Obama administration — to focus on removing criminal immigrants from the U.S. over noncriminals who are also deportable.

During the fiscal year that ended in September, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expelled nearly 400,000 people from the country — the most since the government began its current method of record keeping.

The number of convicted criminals in that group was up 43 percent from the previous year, while noncriminal removals were down 22 percent.

The pattern was similar in the Northwest region, which includes Washington, Alaska and Oregon and where the number of convicted criminals sent home rose 6 percent to 4,700 people.

At the same time, the total number of deportations overall, as well as that for noncriminals, has declined steadily over the past two years.

"ICE is really prioritizing our enforcement and removal to target dangerous criminals and those who present the greatest risk to our communities," said spokeswoman Lorie Dankers.

Additionally, under the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security essentially has ended large-scale raids on employers, replacing them with employment-document audits that result in thousands of illegal immigrants quietly losing their jobs, while their employers occasionally are fined.

There's a growing focus on new initiatives such as Secure Communities, a federal enforcement strategy in which the fingerprints of everyone arrested are checked against immigration records.

Secure Communities, designed to find and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping and threats to national security, is expected to be in every jail nationwide by late 2012. While it's in place in many parts of Oregon and across California, it does not yet exist anywhere in Washington state.