Many prior posts on this blog have emphasized the new priorities espoused by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That agency has announced that it will specifically target for deportation those immigrants who have criminal records. Some recent raids have resulted in a number of arrests, but the latest ICE sweep is by far the agency's largest. Immigrants were arrested here in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and throughout every state in the country.
According to figures released this week by ICE, 3,168 people were arrested over the course of six days. They will remain in custody while they await removal proceedings. The government has also given them the option to exit the country now if they so desire.
Immigration rights supporters questioned the breadth of the raid. Less than half of those arrested had felonies on their records. The remainder had either been convicted of a misdemeanor offense or had remained in the United States after being placed under a prior deportation order. In view of these figures, advocates suggested that a number of people could be deported after committing relatively minor crimes, such as a license violation.
In response, ICE Director John Morton stated that the raid was in line with the agency's objective to take into custody any immigrant with a criminal record.
The raid illustrates the government's increased deportation efforts. During the last three years alone, approximately 1 million immigrants have been sent out of the country. This highlights the need for immigrants to know their rights if they want to fight deportation and try to remain in the United States.
Source: The Washington Post, "Immigration officials arrest more than 3,100," Annie Gowen and Jerry Markon, Apr. 2, 2012.