500K Illegal Immigrants Defying Deportation Orders

Denise Lavoie, AP, November 15, 2008


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has stepped up efforts to catch fugitive aliens, as they are known, and now has about 100 “fugitive operations teams” around the country. In the past year, the teams have made 34,000 arrests, more than double the number two years ago. But there are still 560,000 such immigrants in the U.S.

Fugitive aliens include people who, like Obama’s aunt, sought asylum in the United States but were rejected and ordered to leave the country. Others were caught entering or living in this country illegally, and failed to show at their deportation hearings.

Often, illegal immigrants who have been issued deportation notices are given a certain amount of time to get out of the country on their own. They are not forcibly put aboard a plane; these deportations essentially operate on the honor system.

Generally, if these immigrants stay out of trouble—if they don’t get pulled over by police or swept up in a workplace raid, for example—they are in little danger of being thrown out of the country.


Government officials say that they do the best they can with the money and manpower available to them, and that they focus on the most serious cases, including those involving illegal immigrants who have committed crimes in this country.


Overall, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. In the last year, the government arrested and deported a record number of illegal immigrants, nearly 350,000, according to ICE.


Advocates say many immigrants defy deportation orders because they have lived in the United States for years, married, had children and put down roots in their communities.


Advocates say the only way to reduce the number of illegal immigrants is to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.



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