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Lower deportation risk for minor traffic violations

Revised immigration enforcement guidelines should result in fewer undocumented immigrants facing removal or deportation because of minor traffic violations, according to a recent report. A federal program known as Secure Communities mandates that fingerprints be taken from detained motorists and entered into a computer database even following minor traffic stops.

However, the new policy will be to target only undocumented immigrants whose criminal records are serious, instead of those accused of minor or "technical" offenses. Under the new policy, police will also not be mandated to detain undocumented immigrants for traffic violations when there is no subsequent conviction and they have no prior criminal record.

The goal of Secure Communities is to cross reference fingerprints between local and federal databases in effort to determine if there are charges pending against the detainee, or if the detainee is known to be in the country illegally. Oftentimes, this procedure leads to deportation proceedings.

As a result, many hardworking people have been thrown into prison cells and separated from their families for such minor infractions as a broken tail light or going slightly over the speed limit. A number of states unsuccessfully attempted to opt-out of the program, concerned that it unfairly deports people who are in no way a threat to society.

Critics of this enforcement program pointed to a sharp increase in the number of such deportations last year. A task force convened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently agreed that these practices were understandably increasing the distrust of police and destroying families for no good reason, which led to the adoption of the new policy.

For more information on this important legal issue, talk to an experienced immigration attorney in your area.

Source: International Business Times, "Immigration Tweak Will Mean Fewer Deportations From Minor Traffic Stops," Jeremy B. White, April 30, 2012

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