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Obama admin hits all-time high on prosecutions for nonviolent immigration offenses

Prosecutions for nonviolent immigration offenses have hit an all-time high in fiscal year 2013, up 22.6 percent over five years, with offenses often involving illegal reentry. Meanwhile, critics of such prosecutions say the system is harming families.

About 93 percent of these prosecutions were associated with  people charged with offenses regarding illegal entry and reentry  into the US. Illegal reentry prosecutions have gone up 76 percent  under the Obama administration. The report has been compiled  using data provided by the US Department of Justice.

New cases were filed against 97,384 defendants in FY2013, which  ended on Sept. 30, amounting to 50 percent of all federal  criminal prosecutions.

The total of immigration prosecutions is up 5.9 percent from last  year, according to an analysis by the Transactional Records  Access Clearinghouse of information obtained via a Freedom of  Information Act request.

The Obama administration is on track to deport 2 million people  by 2014. About 97 percent of people being deported are Latino and  Caribbean, according to Tanya Golash-Boza, a sociologist at the  University of California, Merced.

Human Right Watch researcher Grace Meng says since deportees have  no legal way to return, many folks – often parents of US citizen  children – try repeatedly to reenter the US illegally. Some US  districts, she says, saw an estimated 80 to 90 percent of reentry  defendants that had US citizen relatives.

“One US district judge, Robert Brack in New Mexico, who has  sentenced over 11,000 people for illegal reentry, told me, ‘For  10 years now, I’ve been presiding over a process that destroys  families every day and several times each day,’” Meng writes.

Numerous protests against the rash of deportations  during Obama’s time in office have taken place nationwide.  Immigration activists have been organizing around the milestone  deportation number approaching. Many activists met in Phoenix in  October called the “#Not1MoreDeportation” conference, NBC  Latino reported.

“Imagine the president who promised immigration reform in 2008  and now as a result of his own policies, two million who would  have benefited from that reform have been expelled from the  country,” said B. Loewe, a spokesman for the National Day  Laborer Organizing Network, a group that organizes deportation  protests.

Despite an announcement in August by US Attorney General Eric  Holder on recalibrated nonviolent-criminal prosecutions and  reduced prison populations, no measures have emerged to curb  prosecution of immigration offenses.

On Monday, President Obama was interrupted during a speech in  California by activists urging him to use an executive order to  halt deportations rather than wait for congressional approval.

“Please use your executive order!” shouted the protester,  who was behind Obama on stage at the San Francisco event. “You  have the power to stop deportations!” he added.

“Actually, I don’t,” Obama said, waving off security  personnel aiming to remove the protester and others joining him.   “He can stay there…. I respect the passion of these young  people.”

But then Obama told the protester shouting won’t make his goals  come to fruition: “If you’re serious about making that happen,  then I’m willing to work with you.

“The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do  something by violating our laws. What I’m proposing is the harder  path” of amending the law, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Yet Obama has signed hundreds of executive orders, often labeled “executive  actions,” on a variety of issues, from gun control to  enforcing and implementing restrictions in the Patient Protection  and Affordable Care Act.

Norman J. Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute told that Obama “does not hesitate to use executive  authority, but he is well within the mainstream of his modern  predecessors.”


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