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Old 09-12-2011, 06:34 AM
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Default IMMIGRATION: Inland deportations under fire

IMMIGRATION: Inland deportations under fire

...The deportation data trouble some immigration-rights advocates, religious groups and elected officials.

"The numbers show it's not the worst of the worst who are most affected," said John Andrews, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino, which is part of an Inland coalition that is calling for an end to Secure Communities. "It's not the violent criminals but people who are trying to better their lives in the United States."

In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, about 24 percent of the 3,391 people deported after being identified under Secure Communities had been convicted of the most serious felonies, such as murder, rape, child sexual abuse, drug trafficking and some categories of theft and burglary, according to ICE data. Another 13 percent were convicted of less serious felonies, or of three or more misdemeanors.

But the rest either had been found guilty of minor crimes or had no record of a criminal conviction that ICE could locate. Some had no criminal record but had ignored orders to leave the country or returned after being previously deported.

Asked to comment, ICE representatives referred to written statements. ICE says Secure Communities targets only those arrested for a crime, and that it prioritizes people "who present the most significant threats to public safety."

The agency said the percentage of deportees who are felons tends to be lower in part because many of them are serving prison terms and won't be deported until they are released...

...Some anti-illegal-immigration activists say it's irrelevant whether the person committed a minor crime or was convicted of anything. Raymond Herrera, president of Claremont-based We the People, California's Crusaders, said the government should deport anyone found to be in the country illegally, and Secure Communities is one way to easily identify those people.

Chief Deputy Steve Thetford, of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, said the program prevents dangerous criminals from returning to Inland communities. In addition, some people convicted of misdemeanors have also committed more serious crimes, he said...
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