Over the last six years, which includes the last year of the Bush administration, this study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, (TRAC), indicates 2.3 million people were deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Secure Communities and ICE Deportation: A Failed Program? TRAC Series on ICE Deportation. During this period the "Secure Communities" program was launched and expanded to cover all jurisdictions in the U.S. which requires the ICE to maintain a centralized database of all fingerprints of immigrants and non-citizens, and requires local law enforcement agents to detain and submit the fingerprints of suspected undocumented non-citizens.
Analysis of ICE data covering these 2.3 million deportations obtained by TRAC show that while the agency was able to increase the number of non citizens it deported who had been convicted of a crime, this was largely a result of an increase in the deportations of individuals whose most serious conviction was an immigration or traffic violation.
As we see in Table 5, the top three most common charges among ICE deportees during FY 2013 were either immigration or traffic offenses. Conviction for illegal entry was first, driving while intoxicated (DWI) was second, and simple traffic violation was third.
In fourth place in FY 2013 was conviction for marijuana possession. This meant that out of all deportations where the most serious conviction involved drugs, the most common offense found was simple marijuana possession. The number of marijuana possession deportation cases had grown so that they exceeded convictions for cocaine possession, which had dropped to sixth place overall.
This report supports the view we've been hearing from many leaders of the Hispanic and other immigrant communities who have been pleading with President Obama to review the escalation of deportations they say is ripping apart families who have been well established here, and often deporting parents to places they no longer have any family, ties, or support infrastructure.
Even Republican Jeb Bush has voiced a more sympathetic view towards immigration issues recently.
An examination of millions of deportation records since the launch of Secure Communities — a massive government surveillance program — shows that this continuing effort has not increased the removal of its primary announced targets: non-citizens who have committed crimes other than minor violations. In fact, the number of such individuals deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has actually declined over the last four years.
Secure Communities is an ambitious national program under which millions of fingerprint records submitted to the FBI by local law enforcement agencies are passed along to ICE. At that point, the immigration agency issues "detainers" for those that ICE wants the local organizations to hold and then turn over to it. (According to ICE it has already reviewed 32 million fingerprint records through this program.) The broad failure of Secure Communities to achieve its stated goals has been masked by sharp increases in the deportation of those whose most serious conviction was for an immigration violation or traffic offense.
What becomes of these people? For the heart breaking story I jump ahead to the article by Daniel Robelo
How incredibly sad and tragic.
What becomes of the people who are deported? The sad, simple truth is that they will first likely be disappeared within the (increasingly for-profit) U.S. prison and detention system; then sent back to their countries of origin, where they may no longer have any ties to family or community, may lack basic survival needs like food, housing and health services and may face serious threats to their security. Those who are removed from the country are usually barred from reentry, often for life -- no matter if they have family members who are U.S. citizens or decades-long ties to their communities of residence here in the states. ... The result, then, is thousands of families broken and communities torn apart every single year.
Daniel Robelo, a Research Associate in the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of Legal Affairs in Berkeley, California, has written, The Drug War = Mass Deportation: 250,000 Deported for Drug Offenses in Last 6 Years
The drug war has increasingly become a war against migrant communities. It fuels racial profiling, border militarization, violence against immigrants, intrusive government surveillance and, especially, widespread detentions and deportations.
Media and politicians have tried to convince us that everyone who gets deported is a violent criminal, a terrorist or a drug kingpin. But a newly released, first-of-its-kind report shatters that notion, showing instead that the majority (some two-thirds) of those deported last year were guilty of minor, nonviolent offenses -- including thousands deported for nothing more than possessing small quantities of drugs, typically marijuana.
Daniel Robelo makes a very reasonable proposal which I do not believe he will mind me including in a small forth paragraph.
Central to our demands is that no one be arrested, incarcerated or deported for merely using or possessing drugs -- which necessarily entails two major drug law reforms: (1) legalize and regulate marijuana, and (2) stop arresting and criminalizing people for using or possessing everything else.
Such steps are critical for dismantling the war on drugs and ending the war on immigrants - a fight that is, in many ways, one and the same.
I agree with this common sense and compassionate proposal.
P.S. Daniel Robelo is research coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org) This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog:http://www.drugpolicy.org/...