How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More immigration-Occupy synergy as 'Occupy ICE' comes to L.A.

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A sign at the Occupy L.A. camp, October 2011

Several posts lately have explored the immigrant rights component of the Occupy movement, at least in California, where Occupy protesters in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have counted immigration among the many issues they've taken up.

Last month, protesters in San Diego mounted an “Occupy ICE” rally organized by the local janitors' union. The Service Employees International Union has joined with with other labor, civil and immigrant rights groups to do the same in Los Angeles today, with a march to the downtown federal building, which houses a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

In spite of recent immigration-related Occupy protests in New York and Alabama, perhaps nowhere has the Occupy movement - initially accused of being too white - been as involved with immigrant rights activism as in California. Late last month, as police prepared to remove the protesters' camp outside City Hall, Occupy Los Angeles leaders put together and posted a list of “grievances not addressed” that included this request:


New report counts fewer criminal deportations; ICE calls analysis 'misleading'

In October, the Obama administration released deportation statistics indicating that a majority of the record 396,906 people deported in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30, had criminal records. Nearly 55 percent were counted as being convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, with the percentage of criminal removals overall up 89 percent since 2008.

But the numbers in a new report based on immigration court records from Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) add up differently.

According to the TRAC analysis, of all the deportation proceedings initiated between July and September of this year in the nation's immigration courts, only 13.8 involved individuals charged with having engaged in criminal activity. The analysis also counts fewer removals involving criminal charges this year, as opposed to fiscal year 2010.


'Lost in Detention' online: Government documents on sexual abuse allegations, more

Photo by Mauricio Rabuffetti/AFP Getty Images

A guard stands outside one of the tent-like structures at the Willacy Detention Center in Texas, May 2007

PBS Frontline has followed up last night's "Lost in Detention" special on the immigrant detention system - and the policies landing a growing number of immigrants in it - with additional materials online.

The Frontline website has posted a series of government documents related to more than 170 allegations of sexual abuse in the last four years, with the largest number of abuse compliants coming from the Willacy Detention Center, a privately operated detention center in Raymondville, Texas that has been nation's largest. Built from Kevlar domes and commonly referred to as a "tent city," it was announced in June that the facility was losing its U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, and will instead be housing foreign-born "criminal alien" inmates for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.


Report: Secure Communities affects U.S. citizens, too

Art by José Luís Agapito/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new report examining Secure Communities, the immigration enforcement program partly responsible for the Obama administration's record number of deportations, reveals some of the demographics, immigration status, and other key details about who has been arrested and deported under the program since it began rolling out in 2008.

Secure Communities allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be shared with immigration officials, who are notified when prints match immigration records. The idea is to net undocumented immigrants and deportable legal residents with criminal records, a stated goal of the Obama administration.

But as noted in the report by the UC Berkeley Law School, U.S. citizens are affected by the program in more ways than one might think. Citizens have been arrested, and to a much larger degree, have had family members deported. According to the report, nearly 40 percent of the people arrested by immigration authorities under Secure Communities have been the spouses or parents of U.S. citizens.


ICE announces another record year for deportations

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Federal deportation numbers are out for fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30.

And once again, the Obama administration is announcing that a record number of people have been deported during the past year, surpassing the record that was set during fiscal year 2010.

From the news release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

Overall, in FY 2011 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 396,906 individuals — the largest number in the agency's history.

Of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals since FY 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence.

ICE achieved similar results with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Ninety percent of all ICE's removals fell into a priority category and more than two-thirds of the other removals in 2011 were either recent border crossers or repeat immigration violators.