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ICE steps up efforts to deport immigrants convicted of crimes

As issues concerning U.S. immigration law take center stage in the political arena, federal enforcement actions reflect the debate.

Recently, emails from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) were released regarding their policy on deportation. The emails, many targeted to the situation right here in North Carolina, encourage local law enforcement officials to step up their patrols to find illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in an effort to meet the deportation target set by the federal government. ICE denies that it has deportation "quotas", but merely seeks to meet the removal targets.

ICE expressed concern with what it believed to be a high number of illegal immigrants with criminal convictions in the Carolinas and Georgia. They encouraged local law enforcement to take measures and implement programs designed to target illegal immigrants who had committed crimes. These programs included setting up roadblocks and checking on people who had been denied drivers licenses by the DMV.

ICE also implemented programs to keep their agents working on the weekend in area jails. When a person is arrested and their immigration status raises questions, they are turned over to ICE authorities. If the arrest occurs on the weekend, an ICE agent is usually not available until Monday. If the defendant is bailed out, the ICE agent must track the person down. By having ICE agents work on weekends, this eliminates this possible gap.

Several organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have expressed concern that these programs and the deportation targets constitute racial profiling. The ACLU obtained the emails by a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

Deportation is a very serious issue. A deportation proceeding is a complicated process and can be very frightening and confusing for the person involved. An experienced immigration attorney can help a person review their options and fight the deportation.

Source: News Observer, "Emails track immigration officials' focus on finding more criminal aliens," Franco Ordonez, Feb. 20, 2013.

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