ICE Removes 409,000 People, Renews Focus on ‘Criminals’

ICE Removes 409,000 People, Renews Focus on ‘Criminals’

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced annual deportation numbers — which set a new record high — and a renewed focus on “criminal offenders” this Friday.

Part of this focus is the release of a new national detainer guidance that “limits the use of detainers to individuals who meet the department’s enforcement priorities and restricts the use of detainers” against people with minor offenses, such as traffic violations. This change is attributed by some to the Obama Administration’s heeding the calls of immigration rights activists, that deporting someone for selling tamales on private property did not represent a national security threat, for example.

ICE’s new focus is meant to help the agency prioirtize deporting felons, repeat offenders and other unnamed ICE priorities, according to an agency statement.

In total ICE reported the deportation of 409,849 in fiscal year 2012. ICE noted that, of these, 225,390 or 55% of those removed had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, including 1,215 people convicted of homicide, 5,557 convicted of sexual offenses, 40,448 removed for drug-related crimes and 36,166 convicted of DUI.

“These numbers reflect the urgency with which our government needs to create a better immigration process,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told USA Today.

ICE removed double the number of “criminals” this year than it did in 2008, according to a statement. As a matter of fact, 96% of deportations this year were part of ICE’s “priority categories,” a record high for the agency, according to a statement.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network noted that ICE’s release represents a human rights failure on the agency’s part. “There is broad consensus that the criminalization of immigrants driven by ICE has led to a deep, nationwide human rights crisis. The fact that 409,000 families were separated this year should be evidence enough for the need to end programs like Secure Communities altogether,” said NDLON Executive Director Pablo Alvarado.

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