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Did ICE pursue deportation quotas in FY 2012?

Public debate over immigration issues in recent months has moved somewhat away from discussion over deportation and removal proceedings. Florida immigration lawyers know that immigration officials continue to pursue removals under U.S. immigration law. News has broken that despite the apparent easing of deportation policies under the concept of prosecutorial discretion that immigration officials laid out plans to bolster deportation numbers last year.

USA Today says that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials sought to process immigrants for potential deportation proceedings, even immigrants who had been placed in jail at the local level for relatively minor offenses. The newspaper says that internal immigration emails show that immigration officials dispatched department personnel to various traffic safety checkpoints across the country and agents also searched individual state driver's license databases seeking information about foreign-born applicants for immigration review.

The allegations that immigration officials sought to bolster deportation numbers include an email sent last April to a field office in Florida neighboring state, Georgia, that, "The only performance measure that will count this fiscal year is the criminal alien removal target," according to USA Today. Immigration officials reportedly grew concerned when deportation numbers began to fall, prompting officials to seek to boost the numbers to reflect similar numbers achieved in fiscal year 2011.

Fiscal year 2012 ended last September, and the government says that criminal deportations amounted to 225,390-more than the target of 210,000 for the year. However, officials have not identified how many of the 2012 criminal deportations involved low-level offenses, according to the newspaper article. In FY 2011, ICE reported that more than 25 percent of deportations involved immigrants convicted of nothing more than traffic offenses.

ICE says that the agency does not rely upon quotas. But the issue has raised the eyebrows of some immigration advocates across the country.

This blog has discussed many issues related to the areas of federal litigation and immigration defense. Immigrants in Florida facing removal proceedings (or their families) may wish to speak with legal counsel to learn what options may be available in an individual situation.

Source: USA Today, "Immigration tactics aimed at boosting deportations," Brad Heath, Feb. 17, 2013

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