Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ICE breaks deportation record

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 10:25 AM

From the Center for Investigative Reporting and The Washington Post:

For much of this year, the Obama administration touted its tougher-than-ever approach to immigration enforcement, culminating in a record number of deportations.

But in reaching 392,862 deportations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement included more than 19,000 immigrants who exited the previous fiscal year, according to agency statistics. ICE also ran a Mexican repatriation program five weeks longer than ever before, allowing the agency to count at least 6,500 exits that, without the program, would normally have been tallied by the U.S. Border Patrol.

When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency still was in jeopardy of falling short of last year’s mark, they scrambled to reach the goal. Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal emails and interviews show.

Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said.

The option, known as voluntary return, may have allowed hundreds of immigrants, who typically would have gone before an immigration judge to contest deportation for offenses such as drunken driving, domestic violence and misdemeanor assault, to leave the country. A voluntary return doesn’t bar a foreigner from applying for legal residence or traveling to the United States in the future.

Once the agency closed the books for the 2010 fiscal year and the record was broken, agents say they were told to stop widely offering the voluntary return option and revert to business as usual.

Read the rest of this article, by Andrew Becker, here.

And now, allow me to remind of you of Fredd Reyes, the recently-arrested North Carolina college student currently being held in a for-profit prison, awaiting deportation. He's no hardened criminal. In fact, he would qualify for the DREAM Act, which the Obama administration is trying to push through Congress as I type. It will help Fredd, and students like him who came to America as children and know no other home, to become legal citizens.

But, hey, so long as ICE broke a record, right?

Here's Fredd singing "She will be loved." (Scary, huh? Get this guy out of the country! He's not only trying to improve his lot in life through education, but he's talented, too. Horrors!)

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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