Deportations across the Midwest continue to take place on a consistent basis and collectively shine a spotlight on immigration reform which congress will be taking into consideration before the calendar year is out. Despite the ongoing deportation efforts, however, fewer and fewer people are being made aware of them simply because fewer and fewer news outlets are finding these types of stories to be newsworthy. There was a time when United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, maintained a practice of raiding office buildings and other places of employment where undocumented laborers were known to be working and piling them into buses in handcuff to be taken away for deportation. While this practice was so rampant as to be the norm for the federal agency, it also meant that many of the children of these workers were left behind and didn’t see their parents again for months or possibly years, if ever. Families of these deportees worked with immigration and family law firms around the country to take subsequent legal action against ICE but the situation persisted.
The current state of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency in the U.S., while still active in rounding up undocumented workers, is not as blatant about that aspect of their work and typically does not carry out the round ups en masse. Instead, they tend now to gather their suspects on an individual basis or in small handfuls of people over the course of a few days or a week. And rather than laborers working for American businesses, the agency now targets immigrants with criminal records – those who are currently in or have been through America’s penal system. And they aren’t usually individuals with misdemeanors on their records but rather are those who have committed serious felonies or whom the immigration department has dealt with on previous occasions.
The primary reason for the shift in focus from any and all illegal immigrants to those with documented criminal backgrounds was a directive to do so by Congress in 2008. The agency’s targets are not those individuals who are considered a national security or public safety threat as well as those who are “repeat violators” of the immigration system. But the change was not just the result of a Congressional desire to make the country a safer place to live for legitimately documented citizens but was at least as much the result of monetary considerations. For example, an independent analysis determined that the approximate average cost of deporting a single illegal immigrant was $23,000. Since the change in policy was implemented in 2008 there has been an almost 90% increase in the number of deportations of immigrants with criminal records. In 2012 it was reported that well over 400,000 undocumented individuals considered criminals, national security threats, or repeat violators were deported.
If you or someone you know needs legal help regarding immigration or visa documentation, please visit the website of Austin, Texas based Lyttle Law Firm or contact their offices at 512-215-5225.