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Deportations rise by 13 percent in South Carolina, nearby states

This week, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that there were 22,963 noncitizens deported from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina during the past fiscal year, which ended in September. This was a 13 percent increase over the preceding fiscal year, officials confirmed.

ICE tracks deportations by area, not by state, so it is hard to tell exactly how many of those deportations were from South Carolina alone. Nationally, there were 396,906 suspected illegal foreign nationals deported in the 2011 fiscal year. This was a one percent increase from the 2010 fiscal year, ICE reported.

Recently, ICE has indicated that agents are largely targeting undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. Overall, close to 55 percent of those deported nationally had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, ICE reported. ICE officials said that this was an 89 percent increase in deported convicts since 2008.

However, many advocates around the nation are saying that the federal Secure Communities program, which is likely responsible for the high number of criminals being deported, is also causing many innocent immigrants to be kicked out of the country. Critics also allege that this program deters victims of crime and abuse from reporting the incidents to police for fear of being deported.

In response to the high numbers of deportations, ICE officials claimed that 90 percent of the deportations from last fiscal year were considered within priority and two-thirds of the remaining deportations were of people who were repeat immigration offenders or had just recently entered the country.

Recently, the ICE director told reporters that the Obama Administration had established "a rational set of priorities" with regard to immigration and lack of resources. Earlier this year, the administration announced that groups such as young children, high school graduates and those who served in the armed forces would not be treated as harshly under immigration policy.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "ICE deported record number of noncitizens in fiscal '11," Jeremy Redmon, Oct. 18, 2011.

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