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High numbers of immigrants fail to report to agents

The overwhelming influx of Central American immigrants in recent months has stretched many communities' resources, including some in South Carolina. While numbers are sketchy, it is estimated that up to 70 percent of those released into communities have failed to obey directions to report back to immigration agents within 15 days. An audio recording of a meeting between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and advocates for individuals seeking family immigration was obtained by the Associated Press and provided insight on the matter. However, the AP has unsuccessfully attempted to get official comment on the numbers involved.

Experts have made estimates of approximately 41,000 individuals having failed to appear as directed. The recording obtained by the AP included information about deportations, noting that while 860 deportations had been ordered, only 14 affected individuals had reported. An estimated 66,000 immigrants have crossed into the U.S. since October 2013. Because repatriation into the home nations cannot be handled immediately and because of limited options for housing these individuals, the releases have been made. Advocates are concerned that officials may not have clearly explained the requirements for returning or the implications for failing to report to immigration agents as requested.

As plans are established for creating more temporary detention facilities, advocates for the immigrants express concern about the impact on those who might be eligible for asylum in the U.S. but whose opportunities may be limited in a detention situation. At the same time, ICE notes that detention may be important to prevent individuals from vanishing without complying with requirements.

An individual who is concerned that reporting late to immigration agents might result in deportation may want to meet with a lawyer prior to reporting. A lawyer may assist in compiling a case for asylum based on issues such as domestic violence in a home country.

Source: WCSC, "US: Immigrant families fail to report to agents", Alicia A. Caldwell, September 25, 2014

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