U.S. immigration officials laid out plans last year to increase expulsions of immigrants convicted of minor crimes as part of an urgent push to make sure the government would not fall short of its criminal deportation targets, reports USA Today. Among other things, officials reviewed state driver’s license records for information about foreign-born applicants, dispatching immigration agents to traffic safety checkpoints conducted by police departments, and processing more illegal immigrants who had been booked into jails for low-level offenses. Records show ICE officials in Washington approved some of those steps.
President Obama’s administration has made deporting convicted criminals a central feature of its immigration policy, while also saying it would halt some efforts to remove low-priority immigrants who pose little risk to public safety. Immigration advocates said ICE’s urgent effort to boost deportations last year contradicted those public positions. The push came after senior ICE officials in Washington warned its regional enforcement chiefs that criminal deportations had fallen from the year before and instructed them to get the numbers back up. “The only performance measure that will count this fiscal year is the criminal alien removal target,” David Venturella, who then supervised ICE’s field offices, said in April in an e-mail to agents in Atlanta. An ICE spokesman said the agency does not have quotas.