Friday, July 19, 2024

Large Disparities in Noncriminal Deportations under US Program to Deport Criminal Undocumented Immigrants in Some Parts of Country

Up to a quarter of undocumented immigrants deported under Secure Communities, a federal program that is meant to identify criminals who are in the country illegally, had a clean criminal record and in some areas more than half of deportees had never been convicted of a crime, according to government statistics.

In Maryland’s Prince George’s County, a suburb of Washington, DC, two-thirds of the 86 undocumented immigrants deported had no criminal record, making it the second-highest rate of noncriminal deportation in the country among counties or cities with at least 50 removals, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement figures.

It’s a stark contrast when compared to places that have taken on a tough stance on undocumented immigrants.  In  neighboring Prince William County, only 15 of 105 deportees were noncriminal and even in Maricopa County in Arizona, infamous for anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America”, the noncriminal deportation rate was less than half that of Prince George’s.

That number does not sit well with civil rights advocates in the area and even has local authorities perplexed.

“The numbers out of Prince George’s are absurd,” said Gustavo Andrade, organizing director of CASA of Maryland, an immigrant rights group that is active in the county. “Even one family destroyed because of this kind of program makes it unacceptable.”

A spokesman for the Prince George’s Department of Corrections, John Erzen, and a county police spokesman, Maj. Andrew Ellis, said they could not explain the numbers since they were not aware of any police or jail practices might have led to this. It is the federal authorities that decide whom to detain and deport through Secure Communities, the two said.

Administration officials are defending the program. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the program has helped produce a more than 70 percent increase in deportations of criminals, including gang members, murderers and drug traffickers.

“Secure Communities has resulted in the arrest of more than 59,000 convicted criminal aliens, including more than 21,000 convicted of major violent offenses like murder, rape, and the sexual abuse of children,” Napolitano said.

The program was started under George W. Bush administration and expanded by the Obama administration.  The goal of Secure Communities is primarily to target and deport violent criminals.

Washington Post