US Arrests Returning Caribbean Deportees
NEW YORK – United States federal law enforcement authorities say they have arrested a number of persons who had been previously deported to the Caribbean in a four-day immigration dragnet that stretched from the suburbs north of New York City to eastern Long Island.
Officials said that the 54 illegal immigrants arrested have criminal records and had previously been deported but had secretly re-entered the country
They said the suspects, most of whom were arrested at their homes, included citizens of the Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis and the Dominican Republic.
Officials said the tally was the largest number of once-deported immigrants ever ensnared in a single operation by immigration agents.
They said the roundup, which began on Monday and ended late Thursday, reflected a strategy shift by the Obama administration that focuses on enforcement efforts aimed at catching and deporting immigrants who had been convicted of crimes or posed a national security threat.
The announcement of that shift came after advocates for immigrants complained that government agents were more often sweeping up illegal immigrants with no criminal histories.
Immigration authorities announced last month that they had deported a record number of immigrants over the previous 12 months; more than 195,700 of the deportees, or about half of the total, were convicted criminals.
By comparison, during the last fiscal year of the Bush administration, which ended in September 2008, about 32 per cent of all deported immigrants were criminals.
Over the years, Caribbean governments have blamed the spiralling crime wave on increased criminal deportees, particularly from the United States.
John Morton, director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said the latest operation “underscores ICE’s commitment to strategic, sensible immigration enforcement that enhances public safety.”
“ICE will continue to target, arrest and remove those who come to this country to pursue a life of crime rather than the American dream,” he said.
Morton said more than 150 federal agents from the immigration agency and the United States Marshal’s Service were involved in the sweep.
Among the suspects was a 31-year-old man from the Bahamas who had been convicted of robbery and auto theft, officials said.
When agents raided the man’s residence in the Bronx, they questioned his brother, discovered that he had also been deported after a conviction in Florida for aggravated assault with a weapon, and arrested him as well, officials said.
By Daily Nationcaribbean, United States