Chattanooga: Deportations Rise With Tighter Enforcement

PTimes Free Press (Chattanooga), June 3, 2008

The deportation of illegal immigrants is on the rise, according to immigration officials who attribute the record numbers to increased enforcement.

Deportations in the first five and a half months of fiscal year 2008 were higher than in all of 2001, according to U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement figures. In all of 2001, 116,202 immigrants were deported. To date in 2008, 119,429 immigrants have been ordered to return home, records show.


[Scott Sutterfield, assistant field office director in the Office of Detention and Removal in New Orleans] credited “fugitive operations teams” and a program that cross-designates state and local officers to enforce immigration laws for the increased number of deportations.

For many immigrants, the deportation threat of coming to the United States is worth the risk, said one 42-year-old native of Honduras who works in the Chattanooga area.


But increased immigration enforcement has created anxiety in the Hispanic community.


Those who support a more secure border and stricter enforcement of current immigration laws argue that the number of deportations remains small compared to the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States, estimated at 12 million.


The majority of immigrants deported nationwide are from Mexico, followed by Honduras and Guatemala, federal figures show. The majority of Hispanic immigrants in Chattanooga are from Guatemala, followed by Mexico, according to organizations that work with the community.


From January to April 2008, there were 575 deportations, almost twice as many as in 2006. Last year, on average, there were 100 people returning to Guatemala on a daily basis, said Beatriz Illescas, consul general of the Guatemalan Consulate.



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