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Entries in Deportation (6)

Saturday
Feb162013

ICE Emails Show a Desire to Grow Criminal Deportation Stats

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- "Gang bangers." That's how President Barack Obama, while speaking at a November presidential debate, characterized the criminal immigrants who have been deported during his administration.

A recent news report, however, shows that immigration officials floated ideas last year aimed at buoying deportations stats by focusing on minor criminals.

Drawing on interviews and internal emails, USA Today's Brad Heath found that federal immigration officials suggested tactics that included "trolling state driver's license records for information about foreign-born applicants, dispatching U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to traffic safety checkpoints conducted by police departments, and processing more illegal immigrants who had been booked into jails for low-level offenses."

Heath links to a series of emails that show immigration officials searching for ways to meet deportations goals for the year. David Venturella, who oversaw ICE's field operations at the time, wrote in an agency email about keeping the stats high. "There is a lot of concern that criminal removals will fall below not only target but possibly lower than last year's output," he wrote.

Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for ICE, told USA Today that the agency "does not have quotas." She added that ICE sets "annual performance goals" that "reflect the agency's commitment to using the limited resources provided by Congress."

The Obama administration touts the record number of deportations under the president's watch, as well as a record number of criminal deportations. But whether the crimes that lead to deportation are serious or not is unclear. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to release a detailed look at criminal deportations, spelling out exactly what crimes lead to a person being removed from the country.

In a set of yearly statistics published by the department, deportations are lumped together in broad categories. One category, "dangerous drugs," for example, could hypothetically include both those deported for a felony drug trafficking charge and those deported for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

In September, ABC/Univision raised questions about the criminal deportation stats with David Burnham, the co-director of Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), an organization that gathers government data.

"The Obama administration claims that more of the people they're deporting have been convicted of a criminal violation, although our data says that may not be true," he said. "What they mean by a criminal violation is someone arrested bicycling on the sidewalk; really they've defined everything as criminal. And they're using that to get rid of people."

While it's unclear whether immigration officials adopted the tactics laid out in the email, the article cites David Venturella saying that some administration aides appeared to think producing higher criminal deportation numbers would help their careers. ICE spokeswoman Christensen told ABC/Univision that "few of the contemplated steps were ever pursued."

A memo obtained by USA Today mentions a proposal to comb driver's license databases in North Carolina for applicants who were denied licenses because they were unable to prove residency. Such a search "would provide a significant foreign-born target base" that could be vetted to find those with prior criminal convictions, the memo said. An ICE official told ABC/Univision in an email that the proposal was never enacted.

The emails featured in the USA Today report were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which was investigating allegations of racial profiling at immigration checkpoints in North Carolina.

Raul Pinto, a staff attorney with the ACLU of North Carolina, found the information worrisome.

"They thought that promotions were tied to those numbers," Pinto said. "So there really is an incentive for field officers to arrest as many people as possible and increase the deportation numbers by using questionable tactics."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

Obama Polls Strong Among Latinos Since Changing Deportation Rules

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- If Mitt Romney earlier this year faced an uphill battle with Latinos, the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc, that hill may have just turned into a steep mountain.

President Obama’s announcement last Friday that his administration would not seek to deport up to 800,000 children of illegal immigrants has not only gone over predictably well with Latinos, but with voters overall. Sixty-four percent of likely voters agree with Obama’s policy, while 30 percent disagree, according to a new Bloomberg poll released Tuesday. While the new policy left voters divided along party lines -– with 86 percent of Democrats in favor of it and 56 percent of Republicans against it -– independents came out in favor of it, with 65 percent supporting the change.

The new White House policy will offer temporary work permits to young illegal immigrants who came to this country as children. It is similar to the Dream Act, a Democratic proposal supported by Obama, but shot down by Republicans in Congress.

In addition, recent polls have shown a nearly double-digit jump in support for Obama among Latinos since he made the change, and Obama was already doing well among the country’s largest ethnic minority.  An ABC News/Washington Post poll earlier this spring revealed 73 percent of Latinos backed Obama, compared with 26 percent for Romney. While Latinos had previously expressed dismay about Obama’s failures to enact comprehensive immigration reform despite enjoying a Democrat-controlled Congress for his first two years in Washington, his decision to loosen the deportation rules has boosted Latino enthusiasm for him.

“The announcement on June 14 appears to have clearly erased Obama’s enthusiasm deficit among Latinos,” said Matt Barreto, a researcher at Latino Decisions and associate professor of political science at the University of Washington.

The challenge for Obama will be making sure Latinos head to the polls come November. The number of registered Latino voters has dropped significantly in recent years, and projections of how many Latinos will vote in November, once as high as 12.2 million, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, or NALEO, now hover around 10.5 million, according to the William C. Velasquez Institute.

If boosting Hispanic turnout is key for Obama, who won 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008, capitalizing on the economic struggles of Latinos may be Romney’s best hope. The nominal Republican nominee denounced Obama’s announcement last Friday as a political move and accused him of trying to distract Latinos from the economy. The jobless rate among Latinos is currently 11 percent, higher than the national average of 8.2 percent.

In Romney’s favor is the fact that Latinos have cited the economy – not immigration reform – as their top priority. Later this week, the battle for the Latino vote will be on full display in Florida, when both Obama and Romney address Latinos at the annual NALEO conference in Orlando. Romney will speak to the group on Thursday, with Obama taking the stage the following day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun172012

Obama's New Deportation Rule Changes Campaign Playing Field

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama's bombshell announcement that deportation rules will be eased to allow some young, undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States and apply for work permits could play a strong role in the upcoming presidential election.

The lives of some 800,000 young immigrants were immediately changed by the new rule announced Friday, which allows them to avoid deportation, at least for the time being.

Undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the United States before the age of 16 and have lived here for at least five continuous years are now eligible to apply for a two-year work permit that can be renewed, as long as they adhere to certain standards (they cannot have a criminal record or constitute a threat to national security, and must be current students, high school graduates or have served in the military).

But the new rule could also affect the outcome of the race for the White House, which is less than 150 days away, though Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has denied that the timing has anything to do with Obama's reelection campaign.

Both President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are courting the powerful Hispanic vote, but Obama's executive order may have tipped the scales in his own favor in important swing states like Florida, say the experts.

The new rule "gives Latinos an added reason not only to support the president but to actually turn out and vote," said Brent Wilkes, the national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Indeed, recent poll numbers immediately prior to the changed deportation rule found that Hispanic voters favor President Obama over Mitt Romney at 67 percent to 26 percent. But they also largely disapprove of how he's handled deportations during his presidency thus far.

Deportations reached a record high of 400,000 illegal immigrants deported in 2011.

The new deportation order could erase some of that disapproval. Although the DREAM Act was rejected by Congress, Obama's executive order mirrors much of that legislation.

"It's the right thing to do, period," he said in his speech in the White House's Rose Garden.

Now, Hispanic voters' eyes will be on Romney to see how he responds to Obama's order.

During the Republican primaries, the former Massachusetts governor took a staunchly conservative stance.

"I think that we have to follow the law and insist that those who've come here illegally ultimately return home, apply, get in line with everyone else," he said.

Following the president's announcement, though, Romney changed his tune a bit, expressing solidarity with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and addressing the predicament of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents.

"We have to find a solution to help those kids who came here through no fault of their own," he said, but added that the president's executive order is a "short-term solution" because it can be reversed by subsequent presidents.

Both Obama and Romney plan to speak to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Florida next week.

But Romney faces an uphill battle in the arena of the Latino vote, and will have to backtrack on his previous positions if he wants to gain headway, according to Wilkes of LULAC.

"Now President Obama has made it even harder on him," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Obama Defends Immigrant Deportation Rules, Criticized as Political

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama flashed anger today as a reporter interrupted his speech on immigration in the Rose Garden.

Neil Munro of The Daily Caller, a conservative news site, shouted at Obama in the middle of his speech formally announcing looser deportation rules, "Why do you favor foreigners over American workers?"

Irritated, Obama glared at Munro and told him not to interrupt, said he "didn't ask for an argument" and said the new order is "the right thing to do."

The change on immigration relaxes rules for younger illegal immigrants who haven't broken the law since coming into the country as children, a move that has riled Republicans while bringing the issue back into the fore of the 2012 election. The Homeland Security Department will no longer deport such immigrants, and work permits will be given to them.

The more lenient deportation rules are similar to the proposals in the DREAM Act, legislation supported by Obama but blocked in Congress.

"We're a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids," Obama said in his speech before he was interrupted.

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The Obama administration denied that politics played a role in the announcement, but the timing is ideal for the president's re-election campaign. In the GOP primary, Mitt Romney adopted strictly conservative positions against illegal immigration in his effort to woo right-wing voters. He backs a strong fence along the border with Mexico, opposes most amnesty and boasts of his move as Massachusetts governor to deny in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Democrats have said they plan to hold Romney to those positions, painting him as a candidate with extreme views on immigration. Romney's campaign stumbled last month when the Republican National Committee's director of Hispanic outreach told reporters that Romney was "still deciding what his position on immigration is," fueling the notion that he holds few true convictions.

In a brief statement Friday afternoon, Mitt Romney took issue with the president’s decision, saying that the administration’s policy shift “makes reaching a long-term solution more difficult.”

Romney’s full statement reads, "I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long term basis so they know what their  future would be in this country. I think the action the President took today makes it more difficult to reach that long term solution because an executive order is of course just a short term matter, it can be reversed by subsequent presidents. I’d like to see legislation that deals with this issue and I happen to agree with Marco Rubio as he considered this issue. He said that this is an important matter and we have to find a long term solution but that the president’s action makes reaching a long term solution more difficult. If I’m president, we’ll do our very best to have that kind of long term solution that provides certainty and clarity to the people who come into this country through no fault of their own by virtue of the action of their parents. Thank you."

When reporters pressed Romney to answer whether he would reverse the policy if elected, Romney turned and walked back onto his campaign bus. Romney made the comments after an ice cream social he held in the small southern New Hampshire town of Milford -- the second stop on his five-day, six-state bus tour.

Kevin Madden, a former Romney adviser, today said on MSNBC that, "there are going to be a lot more questions here, I think particularly up on Capitol Hill and the Congress' role in whether or not they believe that the president can go out and around Capitol Hill and around legislatures and around Congress on something like this."

Obama's announcement today is likely to carry favor with Hispanics, a key growing voting bloc that could determine the winner in November in important states like Florida, Colorado and Nevada. The president beats Romney among Hispanics in polls, but most Latinos say they disapprove of Obama's deportation policy. Obama also plans to speak to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Florida next week, as will Romney.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today denied that the plan was crafted at the direction of the White House.

"No, this was developed by the department," she told ABC News. "It was developed within my office, and it was, as I said, before a logical progression from decisions we have been making over the last three, three-and-a-half years."

Under the new rules, up to 800,000 immigrants will be affected. Deportation will no longer apply to immigrants who came into the country before they were 16 and are now younger than 30, have lived here for five straight years, have never been convicted of a crime or graduated from high school or got a GED.

Such immigrants will be allowed to apply for a two-year work permit that can be renewed unlimited times.

GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa released a statement saying he was "outraged" by the new rules. "The American people have rejected amnesty because it will erode the Rule of Law," he said. "In much the same way, I believe the American people will reject President Obama for his repeated efforts to violate the Constitutional separation of powers."

Rep. Peter King of New York, the Republican chairman of the House committee on homeland security, said the White House is "overstepping its authority by weakening immigration laws without Congressional approval."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr252012

Marco Rubio Biography Reveals Grandfather Was Ordered Deported

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A forthcoming biography of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will reveal that his grandfather was ordered deported from the U.S. after flying in from Cuba without a visa.

A preview of The Rise of Marco Rubio, an unauthorized biography written by Manuel Roig-Franzia, a reporter with the Washington Post, was obtained by Politico and details the immigration travails of Rubio’s grandfather, a fact that could increase scrutiny on the potential VP pick.

According to the preview, Rubio’s maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor Garcia, had emigrated to the United States, but chose to return to Cuba to tend to the shoe store he left behind in Havana after dictator Fulgencio Batista abdicated his rule.  The book explains that upon his return, he began working for the Castro government at Cuba’s Treasury Ministry, but as he grew uncomfortable with Fidel Castro’s regime, Rubio’s grandfather tried to make his way back to the United States without a visa, 10 years before Rubio was born.

“It was that on August 31, 1962, he took an incredibly risky step.  He bought a ticket and boarded Pan American Airlines flight 2422 bound for Miami.  Pedro Victor’s troubles began not long after the plane landed.  He had a Cuban passport and a U.S. alien registration card, but he didn’t have a visa,” the preview reads.  “A U.S. immigration official named E.E. Spink detained the 63-year-old grandfather.  Spink signed a form that read, ‘you do not appear to me to be clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to enter the United States.’  A photographer snapped a mug shot of Pedro Victor with his alien registration number on a block in front of him. … His cheeks were sunken, there were bags under his eyes, and his mouth was tight."

“The paper trail is inconclusive about whether he was forced to spend time in a detention facility," the preview continues. "… On October 4, 1962, Pedro Victor appeared before a special inquiry officer, a kind of immigration judge, named Milton V. Milich … Milich orders ‘that the applicant be excluded and deported from the United States.’”

“Pedro Victor … did not leave the country as ordered," the preview reads.  "In those days deportees weren’t necessarily thrown onto a plane … Pedro Victor’s legal status would remain unresolved for years.  He stayed in Miami … [In 1967] Pedro Victor returned to the immigration bureaucracy to ask, once again, to become a permanent resident. … The form he filled out then states that he had been a Cuban refugee since February 1965.  Refugee status may have been granted retroactively.”

Roig-Franzia’s book will also shed light on the Rubio family’s dabbling in Mormonism while they lived in Las Vegas, beginning when Rubio was seven or eight years old.  In an interview earlier this month, Rubio said he remembers little of his family’s involvement with Mormonism and says he is a practicing Roman Catholic.

The Rise of Marco Rubio
is set to be released on June 19, the same day as Rubio’s autobiography, An American Son: A Memoir.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec212011

Mitt Romney Says ‘Yes’ to Deporting President Obama’s Uncle

Toni Sandys/The Washington Post(BOSTON) -- Presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a Boston talk radio host on Wednesday that he supports the deportation of President Obama’s Kenyan-born uncle who was arrested this fall on drunken driving charges in Massachusetts.

When asked whether the president’s relative, Onyango Obama, should be deported, Romney said, “The answer is ‘yes.’”

“Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” Romney said. “And the answer is ‘yes.’”

The radio host explained that the uncle, nicknamed “Omar,” was recently arrested in Framingham, Mass.

“Uncle Omar,” who is the half-brother of the president’s father, was arrested on Aug. 24 for driving under the influence, failing to yield and negligent operation of a vehicle. At the police station, he told an officer, “I think I will call the White House,” according to a police report.

A lawyer for Onyango Obama appeared in Framingham District Court in Massachusetts last month to tell a judge that he plans to file a motion to suppress the traffic stop.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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