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ICE’s deportation of mother of Iraqi war veteran draws concern

LatinaLista — A New York Times’ article over the weekend about how the Obama administration is now “smartly” enforcing immigration law by going after employers:

deportation.jpgIn a break with Bush-era policies, the number of criminal cases against unauthorized immigrant workers has dropped sharply over the last two years

Map shows deportation route of Colorado mother Celia Novak.

doesn’t erase the fact that the Obama administration continues to deport people — breaking the Bush administration’s record on deportations.

In fact, in a story funded by the Center for Investigative Reporting and published in the Washington Post in December 2010, it was revealed why there have not been as many criminal cases against undocumented workers:

Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal emails and interviews show.

Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said.

The option, known as voluntary return, may have allowed hundreds of immigrants, who typically would have gone before an immigration judge to contest deportation for offenses such as drunken driving, domestic violence and misdemeanor assault, to leave the country. A voluntary return doesn’t bar a foreigner from applying for legal residence or traveling to the United States in the future.

The practice of bypassing immigration courts and forcing people to accept voluntary return without contesting their deportation was supposed to have stopped at the end of 2010. Yet, in that same investigative report it was discovered that ICE’s goal for deportations for 2011 is 404,000.

Since the administration is keen on being perceived as a high enforcer of immigration law, one has to wonder if the practice is still being used in courts with huge backlogs, like Denver.

The Denver Post reports there are 7,200 pending immigration cases in Denver and ranks the immigration courts there as in the top ten of most overloaded immigration courts.

If the practice is still being used, it might explain why one immigrant who has every reason to be granted a stay was suddenly whisked away from her family and her son, an Iraqi war veteran.

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