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US Deportations Reach Record Levels

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on October 08, 2010 7:08 AM

The Obama Administration is looking to show it is taking a tough stand on illegal immigration. The statistics announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on October 6 showed 392,000 deportations in 2010, up 70 percent compared to 2008, the last year of the Bush administration.

The Associated Press reports that the focus is on a "by the book approach" that attempts to hone in on criminals for deportation. The statistics from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) say that 195,000 of those deported were convicted criminals. Another focus of enforcement has centered on employers who hire illegal workers. Again according to ICE, 3,200 employers suspected of hiring illegal immigrants were audited by the agency. This resulted in the debarment of 225 companies and individuals, and fines totaling $50 million, more than the entire Bush administration, ICE said.

According to the Los Angeles Times report, the further implementation of the Secure Communities program has also played a large part in the numbers presented by Homeland Security and ICE. Secure Communities uses fingerprints to identify incarcerated immigrants in both state prisons and local jails. This is accomplished by linking the state justice departments to a national fingerprint database used by ICE. The program began with just 14 jurisdictions in 2008, the Times reports, but has increased to more than 660. Napolitano says Secure Communities is on track to be in place in every law enforcement jurisdiction in the country by 2013.

However, not everyone agrees that the numbers presented Wednesday are good news. The Times reports that a group of immigrant rights associations claim the statistics they have obtained from ICE show that almost 80% of immigrants detained under Secure Communities are not criminals, or were only arrested for what they say are low-level offenses.

Secretary Napolitano disagrees. At a news conference in D.C. she told the press, "The numbers reflect our continued focus on those who pose a public-safety threat to our communities."

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