Agence France-Presse

Immigration: Fewer traffic violations will lead to illegals being deported


Protesters shouted slogans during a protest against Arizona's immigration law on April 25, 2012 outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The Department of Homeland Security announced a policy change on April 28, 2012, which will lead to fewer illegal immigrants being deported for minor traffic offenses.



Immigration officials announced on Friday that illegal immigrants who are arrested on minor traffic violations and have no criminal history will no longer automatically face detention, according to the Associated Press.

Spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Barbara Gonzalez, said that immigration agents would only consider detaining people if they were convicted of traffic offenses.

The policy change is part of the Department of Homeland Security's response to a report by a task force on a federal fingerprinting program, said The New York Times. The report, which was issued in September 2011, said that deportations for minor offenses were inconsistent with the department's priorities.

The report concluded that deportations for minor offenses, such as speeding or driving without a license, carried out under the Secure Communities program were undermining trust between immigrant communities and the local authorities.

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The immigration changes came just a few days after the Supreme Court heard the Obama administration's arguments against the controversial Arizona immigration law which would compel law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of those suspected of being illegal immigrants.

The Times noted that administration officials point to Secure Communities as an example of enforcement at the federal level, which makes state level policing of immigration counterproductive.

In front of the Supreme Court, the Justice Department argued that Arizona setting up its own state policy was "attrition by enforcement," which would lead to illegal immigrants leaving the state for neighboring states, according to Bloomberg. Critics of the law have argued that it encourages racial profiling.

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The AP noted that the Supreme Court's skepticism of the government's case against the Arizona law has led lawmakers and activists in many other states to say they will seek similar measures in their own states.

Immigration might gear up to be a big issue in the presidential campaign, and Sen. Marco Rubio, who many see as a potential vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, has said he will introduce a bill in June to help young people who immigrate illegally as children. Rubio's response to the Democrats' Dream Act would issue non-immigrant visas to those eligible so they could remain in the US for college and military service, according to NPR.

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