First, according to the Barack Obama administration, the official number of deportations over the last year reached record numbers for the second year in a row.
Second, the Department of Homeland Securitys Secure Communities measure, previously pitched as a voluntary program for local governments, is actually mandatory. Under this program, everyone who is fingerprinted by local cops also gets run through an immigration status check.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported nearly 393,000 immigrants during fiscal year 2010, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Janet Napolitano announced October 6. Some 389,000 were deported the previous year, according to the most recent news reports.
These figures dont include the number of immigrants deported through agreeing to voluntary departure In 2009 that number was about 580,000. Most of these voluntary departures are Mexican immigrants captured by U.S. border agents, according to DHS.
The White House has boasted a higher deportation rate of so-called criminal aliens than the previous administration of George W. Bush. According to ICE, some 196,000 of those deported over the last year were supposedly in this category, a 70 percent increase from fiscal year 2008. The overwhelming majority of these were convicted of nonviolent offenses, which include such minor violations as traffic tickets, nonpayment of alimony, and open container laws. About half of 1 percent were found guilty of murder.
The Secure Communities program was initiated in 14 jurisdictions toward the end of 2008. Today it has expanded to more than 660 jurisdictions in 33 states, and is on track to cover all cop agencies in the country by 2013, according to ICE.
Secure Communities had been billed as an optional cooperation program between the DHS and local cop agencies. Several municipal governments, so-called sanctuary cities, voted not to participate in the program: Arlington, Virginia; the District of Colombia; San Francisco; and Santa Clara, California. But it was never clear exactly what opting out meant.
Napolitano and ICE head John Morton recently confirmed that sharing information with immigration authorities is really not voluntary, since local police agencies regularly share biometrics with the FBI, which in turn shares them with ICE. A top immigration official, on condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post that local authorities have no say in whether to comply with any ICE demand to detain someone in police custody. Opting out, he explained, only means that local cop agencies would not be informed of the reasons behind these detention orders.
Meanwhile, the government has continued to step up its checks of workers immigration status at workplaces throughout the country. According to an October 6 ICE news release, immigration authorities have checked records at more than 3,200 workplaces since January 2009. Thousands of immigrants were fired from their jobs as a result.
The militarization of the border continues to increase. The number of miles under effective control at the Mexico border more than tripled between 2005 and 2009. The number of border guards has nearly doubled in the last five years.
As a result of a net decline in the rate of immigration and stepped-up deportations, the estimated number of immigrants without documents in the country declined from around 12 million in 2007 to 11 million in 2009. With less people trying to cross into the United States, immigration arrests at the border have declined. Nevertheless, deaths at the border remain as high as ever. Last year 417 immigrants died trying to enter the United States from Mexico, up from 390 in 2008.
Socialist speaks at immigrant rights rally
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