deporting illegal aliens, illegal alien deportation, deporting illegal criminals
Evan Vucci/AP
Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano

Immigration Raid Delays Suggest New Focus on Employers

March 31, 2009 10:30 AM
by Kate Davey
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed new immigration raids, indicating that DHS will target employers of illegal immigrants, not their workers.

New Immigration Policy Will Target Employers of Illegal Immigrants

A senior official in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security explained to The Washington Post why proposed immigration raids were being delayed; the department intends to shift focus from working illegal immigrants to their employers.

In February, Secretary Napolitano ordered an investigation into the arrest of 28 alleged illegal immigrants during a raid at an engine plant in Washington State. 

An anonymous source in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the New York Times that Napolitano was not happy about the raid because she was not aware of it before it happened and because it was “inconsistent with her position, and the president’s position on these matters.”

Information about the delay also comes after public outcry against immigration raids. At a rally attended by hundreds on March 22, Cardinal Francis George called on the Obama administration to end immigration raids and to enforce immigration reform that is “fair and compassionate.”

Background: Deportations reach all-time high in 2008

In 2008, more than 345,000 illegal aliens were removed from the United States, compared to 288,000 in 2007. The ICE attributed the rise to the expansion of the Criminal Alien Program (CAP).

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CAP released a statement explaining that it “focuses on identifying criminal aliens incarcerated in federal, state and local facilities. Once a criminal alien is identified, ICE lodges an immigration detainer against the individual to ensure they are turned over to ICE for removal upon completion of their criminal sentence.”

Traditionally, officials have targeted convicted criminals when enforcing immigration law, as customs officials must state reasons for deportation. The law specifies that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, can be deported if they have conducted crimes of "moral turpitude” or "aggravated felonies."

Related Topic: Deported immigrants have higher crime rate

Last year the Los Angeles Times reported on a study by the nonprofit Rand Corp., which found that illegal immigrants who have been deported at least once are more likely than other immigrants to engage in continual criminal behavior. However, illegal immigrants overall did not pose a greater criminal threat to the Los Angeles community.

On Jan. 12, U.S. immigration agents began a 26-day “surge” of immigration screenings of jails in Gwinnett County, Georgia, intending to deport illegal immigrants who have been arrested.

Gwinnett County had been hoping to become part of an ICE initiative that trains local jailers to complete deportation paperwork to send criminal illegal immigrants home. Three other Georgia counties had already joined the program.

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