Ten months after a Polish immigrant in the Chicago area–already convicted of burglary and battery–ignored a deportation order, he was one of about a dozen illegal immigrants arrested in a week of raids this summer, the Chicago Tribune reports. As border states try to stem the flow of illegal immigration, federal officials in the interior are unleashing a continuing series of sweeps for illegal immigrants, especially gang members, sex offenders, and those who ignore deportation orders. In 2004, deportations from the six-state Chicago district rose to 6,231, a 27 percent increase from the previous year.
Officials say the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks prompted a push to restore integrity to the immigration system. The first step was a targeted approach against immigrants who present the greatest threats to public safety. The crackdown shows the daunting nature of immigration enforcement, which one analyst compared to removing stones from a beach, one by one, even as the tide brings in more. Officials estimate that nearly 17,000 immigrants remain at large in the Chicago district after ignoring deportation orders. Lawmakers say the U.S. government’s current approach will generate only modest gains, without reversing the tide of illegal immigration. Conservatives favor stricter controls, including putting soldiers on the U.S.-Mexico border and raiding job sites. Liberals say enforcement alone doesn’t work and want to provide legal status for most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.