Concerned about falling short of congressional deportation targets, U.S. immigration officials last year beefed up efforts to remove thousands more illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, McClatchy Newspapers report. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency looked to communities in the Carolinas and Georgia, which have had some of the fastest-growing illegal immigrant populations, in an almost desperate attempt to boost their numbers. “Please implement your initiatives and reallocate all available resources,” David Venturella, who then led ICE field operations, wrote in an email to the agency’s Southeast office in Atlanta. His email was attached to a wide-ranging proposal for increasing deportations, which tallied suggestions on how agents in various cities could add to the number of immigrants picked up for removal.
Email exchanges among officials obtained by McClatchy illustrate how aggressively ICE leadership has focused on meeting removal targets that have annually broken records for the number of deportations, which the White House uses to tout its focus on criminal illegal immigrants. The agency planned to have agents working more traffic checkpoints, working weekends in Charlotte, N.C.-area jails, vetting denied driver’s license renewal applications in Raleigh, N.C., pressuring district attorneys to seek convictions of illegal immigrants and adding fugitive operations teams in Columbia, S.C., and Macon, Ga. Critics, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, charged that the tactics demonstrate a “quota” system that “breeds violations of constitutional rights” and promotes racial profiling.