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Friday, December 31, 2010

U.S. deports record number of migrants in 2010

During 2010, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 392,862 undocumented foreigners -- more than 195,000 were convicted criminals
By Alexandra Vilchez
Latin American Herald Tribune
December 29, 2010

Charlotte – A record number of immigrants were deported from the United States in 2010 and the year also has been marked by the expansion of the Secure Communities program of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which identifies imprisoned undocumented foreigners.

During Fiscal Year 2010, ICE deported 392,862 undocumented foreigners, of whom more than 195,000 were convicted criminals, an increase of more than 23,000 deportations - including 81,000 people with criminal records - compared with 2008.

In 2009, deportations totaled 389,834 and the goal for 2011 is 404,000.

ICE broadened the Secure Communities program, a biometric technology effort that compares the fingerprints of people being held in local jails with those in ICE and FBI databases.

Up through November 2009, the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the measure, which operated at that time in 95 detention centers in 11 states, John Morton, the Homeland Security assistant secretary for ICE, announced that Secure Communities had detected 11,000 undocumented foreigners accused of major crimes such as murder, rape and kidnapping.

Currently, the program is operating at 891 incarceration centers in 35 states.

An example of its rapid expansion is in the state of North Carolina, which in 2009 had 13 Secure Communities participating in the program and by Dec. 21, 2010, was functioning in 77 counties.

According to ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez, during 2010 about 90,937 people were arrested on the federal level for immigration violations after being identified by Secure Communities, and deportation proceedings have been begun against 49,739 of them.

Of that latter group, 11,493 are being deported for committing major Level 1 crimes, another 19,271 for Level 2 crimes such as drug trafficking, and another 5,275 for Level 3 infractions including traffic violations.

The rest - 13,700 - were acquitted of the criminal charges against them in court but their immigration cases remain pending because they were found to be in the country without the proper documents.

"The goal of Secure Communities is for it to install the system in the country's more than 3,000 jails by (the end of) 2013," Gonzalez told Efe.

In the two years that the measure has been in effect - and according to a report by the Immigration Policy Center it lacks the proper supervision and a complaint procedure and it spurs racial profiling against immigrants - 69,905 foreigners have been identified as being in the country illegally and deported.

The majority of those - 52,237 - have been deported for medium level and minor crimes, according to ICE figures.

"It's deplorable that under the mandate of President Barack Obama the number of deportations has increased. The expansion of Secure Communities paints a difficult panorama for our community in 2011," Ruben Campillo, North Carolina coordinator of the group Reform Immigration for America, told Efe.

Campillo said that his state is an example of the abuses that have been committed during the course of the implementation and expansion of programs like Secure Communities and 287g, which mainly identifies immigrants who do not have criminal records.

"It will be of great importance to work closely with the agencies of local public order to ensure that their personnel are trained and to establish an alternative to accepting official identification documents that enable the high number of arrests of immigrants who don't have driver licenses to be avoided," the community leader said.

ICE has given no sign of easing up during 2011, and on the contrary, it is threatening next year to be even more severe with immigrants with criminal records and with companies that hire unauthorized labor.