Deported Immigrants Come Back to the United States
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The U.S. Border Patrol is often catching immigrants who were previously deported. For many it is not their first time, but rather their third, fourth, or even fifth deportation. One of these individuals is Jose Ricardo Garcia who has been deported four times and served an equal amount of prison terms in the United States. His prior convictions include illegal entry, vehicle theft, assault, and drug possession. Garcia came into the United States as a child legally but later lost his legal status. Each time he was
deported he managed to make his way back into the country. Some of the immigrants who are deported, especially younger immigrants, have lived most of their life in the United States. Therefore, it is even highly more likely that they will attempt to get back across the border.
Immigrants who have spent most of their lives in the United States are accustomed to the American way of life and sometimes cannot speak Spanish fluently. In addition, they tend to have family and friends in the United States that could provide a place to live. Many times when the U.S. Border Patrol deports individuals they drop them off at a border city. There are others who are flown further into Central Mexico or somewhere equally distant, but for the most part they are released not too far away in a Mexican border city. Officials in Mexican border cities have long voiced their concern for immigrants being released into their cities because it tends to bring about more crime. While some immigrants will head back to the city where they came from after being disillusioned in their attempts to get to the United States, many will remain in the border city and wait for the “right” opportunity to come along to make another attempt.
Some immigrant gangsters who have been deported will stay in Mexico or head back to Central America and recruit more gang members in their homeland. The numbers of members of just this gang are in the thousands and they terrorize neighborhoods with their drug-dealing, thefts and other crimes. At some point, many end up making their way back to the United States. A Border Patrol agent estimated that about 15% of immigrants detained are immigrants who have previously committed a crime in the United States. While in the jail system, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been more aggressive in identifying illegal immigrants or legal residents with previous crimes so they can be deported after serving their sentence. The Secure Border Initiative introduced in 2005 aims to have 90% of all federal inmates and state inmates born outside the U.S. screened by the ICE by the fall of 2008. In the second half of 2009 ICE is looking to have this similar screening set up at large city jails across the nation. To achieve these goals, President Bush has requested nearly $30 million for the Department of Homeland Security, so that ICE can introduce 22 additional teams that will focus on the Criminal Alien Program. Since 1996 amended immigration laws have facilitated the deportation of legal residents in the U.S. who have committed certain petty crimes within a particular time period or have been convicted of a felony. Another change was the expansion of what actions fall under the term aggravated felony.
U.S. Border Patrol can now easily identify immigrants with a history of prior drug-related or violent offenses by putting their names into a federal database. During the 2006 fiscal year, nearly 90,000 individuals were deported due to their criminal past. The majority (nearly 75%) of these deportees were Mexicans. For the approximately 1.1 million illegal immigrants detained last fiscal year by the U.S. Border Patrol, nearly 70,000 hits came up. They had prior offenses in the U.S. with immigration violations being excluded from this count. In order to discourage immigrants who have previously been deported from the U.S. and are caught trying to enter the U.S. again, they are being charged with felonies. In the past immigrants would have likely just have been deported again, but now the U.S. government is taking a tougher stance and charging them with felonies for illegally reentering the country after being deported. Officials are hoping that a longer prison term will discourage many illegal immigrants with criminal offenses from returning. It is important to note that while there is no denying that immigrants with criminal backgrounds try to make their way back to the U.S. after deportation, they are a minority as most immigrants have clean records and have no criminal history. Improvements continue to be made along the U.S.-Mexico border and more Border Patrol agents have been hired, but this is no deterrence to many immigrants. Conditions in their homelands give them little incentive to return and the opportunity for a better life seems within reach no matter how many challenges they may face along their journey.