Nearly a third of immigrants flagged for deportation from North Carolina jails were arrested on traffic violations, says a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and reported by the Raleigh News & Observer. The review of the 287 (g) program, a local-federal partnership named after a section of federal immigration law, looked at data from 2007 to 2009 in five jails. The study concluded that the program failed to meet its objective of targeting violent criminals, said Mai Thi Nguyen, one of its authors. Of the jail inmates flagged for deportation, just 13.3 percent had been arrested on felony charges. “The program does not meet the stated goal of focusing on violent crimes,” Nguyen said. “The majority of people being processed for the program are there for minor crimes.”
Of 14,805 inmates screened during the period, there were 9,552 processed for deportation statewide. Traffic violations led to 30 to 57 percent of the deportation cases in various counties. North Carolina was ahead of other states as an early proponent of the program, which trains sheriff’s deputies to inquire about a person’s immigration status and start deportation proceedings for those in the country illegally. Critics have warned that local enforcement of immigration laws could lead to racial profiling or a reluctance of immigrants to report crimes committed against them.