U.S. immigration officials laid out plans last year that would ratchet up 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, new records obtained by USA TODAY show.
Among those new tactics — detailed in interviews and internal e-mails — were trolling state driver’s license records for information about foreign-born applicants, dispatching U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 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 who have largely supported the administration said ICE’s urgent effort to boost deportations last year suggested the agency had veered from that approach.
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