How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California
The review of some 300,000 deportation cases in the nation's backlogged immigration courts recently led to some confusing headlines after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that about 16,500 pending cases would be temporarily put on hold, which some translated into these cases being "shelved."
But that's not exactly how it works. As the review process continues, there are no guarantees for those so far deemed eligible for relief. And even for the few spared removal to date, the future is uncertain.
Here's some of the recently released ICE data on the deportation reviews, followed by an explanation of what it means. From ICE:
• In total, ICE has reviewed 219,554 pending cases with approximately 16,544, or 7.5%, identified as amenable for prosecutorial discretion as of April 16, 2012.
Photo by 888bailbonds/Flickr (Creative Commons)
A Los Angeles County prisoner bus, June 2009. The county participates in the federal 287(g) program.
Crowding, violence and allegations of civil rights abuses are among the reasons the embattled Los Angeles County jail system is under federal investigation. But the county has also faced criticism in recent years in some circles for its federal-local partnerships with immigration authorities.
Sheriff Lee Baca a supporter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's controversial Secure Communities enforcement program, which allows for the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be shared with immigration officials. The county has also long participated in a smaller voluntary federal-local partnership called 287(g), in which deportable inmates are identified and released post-conviction to immigration officials.
How many L.A. County inmates are released to ICE? The 2011 numbers are found buried in new report on the county jail system from an independent justice expert, which among other things recommended closing the Men's Central Jail downtown because of violence problems.
Art by José Luís Agapito/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Immigration officials may not have intentionally misled lawmakers or the public about the controversial Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, but their communication strategy was a mess, according to an investigation by Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General.
The OIG investigation was requested last year by California's Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from San Jose, after states and local jurisdictions trying to withdraw from the federal fingerprint-sharing program began learning they could not. It's one of two new OIG reports related to Secure Communities, the other addressing the program's operations.
The communications analysis is perhaps the most interesting of the two, among other things examining the Secure Communities memorandums of agreement, called MOAs, which states and jurisdictions signed after the program began rolling out in late 2008.
A post last week examined an attempt by some California lawmakers to keep the children of deported immigrants out of foster care, a growing problem as record deportations lead to more separated families. It briefly cited a new federal report on deported parents that had just begun trickling out to legislators.
The details of the report, now making the rounds, are impressive. During the period between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011, according to the report, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 46,486 immigrants from the country who claimed to be the parent of at least one U.S. citizen child.
The seven-page report to Congress is part of a federal response to lawmakers seeking more data from ICE on deported parents of U.S. citizen children. Interestingly, it cites a Homeland Security estimate from 2009 that tallied more than 100,000 parents of U.S. citizen children removed between 1998 and 2007. Spread out over several years, that's a relatively low number in comparison. Since then, as deportations have increased, so naturally have the deportations of parents.
Photo by olongapowoodcraft/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Announcing a nationwide series of immigration sweeps this morning, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials tallied up the arrests of what ICE director John Morton termed in "3,168 fewer criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators in our neighborhoods across the country."
But as it typically goes with these operations, which have grown larger in recent months as the Obama administration carries out its mandate to arrest convicted criminals, the breakdown of the immigrants arrested is complicated. Not all are high-profile offenders; in fact, not all are convicts.
Here's ICE's local breakdown from Los Angeles, where of the 206 people apprehended, 106 had convictions for serious or violent crimes, according to the agency:
106 with Level I Convictions (Convicted of serious crimes, such as homicide, rape, drug trafficking, threats to national security and other “aggravated felonies,” or convicted of two or more felonies.)
85 with Level II Convictions (Convicted of a single felony, such as a property crime or extortion, or convicted of three or more misdemeanors.)
5 with Level III Convictions (Convicted of up to two misdemeanors, such as minor drug offenses and disorderly conduct.)
10 with no prior convictions