How Quick Deportations Can Wreck Local Prosecutions


Federal immigration officials deported a man after he was caught in Columbus this past spring with almost a pound of heroin; he never served a day in prison, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Federal officials also deported a witness to a killing. The prosecution’s case fell apart without his testimony, so the U.S. citizen charged with murder was freed. A grand jury indicted a man for molesting a child in 2008, but the charges came seven months too late. He had been deported, depriving the 6-year-old abuse victim of justice.

Federal immigration agents regularly sweep illegal immigrants out of Ohio jails and deport them. Immigration agents and local prosecutors are not talking to one another before that decision is made. A yearlong investigation by the newspaper found that, as a result, illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes, including drug and sex-related offenses, can use deportation to avoid criminal prosecution. When they are sent home, they are free to plan their next uninvited trip to the United States. The approach causes problems statewide, especially in urban areas where the volume of cases complicates communication among jailers, prosecutors, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, said Bob Cornwell of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. As the number of deportations skyrockets, the lack of rules about when, if and how police, prosecutors and ICE agents work together is wreaking havoc for local officials. Those officials are at the mercy of ICE, a sometimes secretive agency tasked with deporting an estimated 11.1 million immigrants living in the U.S. without permission.

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