More criminals being deported, federal stats show

Officials credit new tools; critics say minor infractions targeted.

By Cornelius Frolik, Staff Writer
9:05 PM Saturday, July 30, 2011

Although the overall number of illegal immigrants deported in Ohio and Michigan fell by 3.6 percent from fiscal years 2009 to 2010, federal data show the number of criminals deported increased by about 25 percent.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said their agency deported almost three times as many criminal illegal immigrants in Ohio and Michigan in fiscal year 2010 as they did three years earlier.

ICE divides the country into about two dozen areas, and Ohio and Michigan statistics are grouped together. ICE could not provide specific deportation numbers for Ohio.

Khaalid Walls, ICE spokesman for the field office that covers Ohio, said the data show the agency is fulfilling its priority to target illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, immigrant fugitives and recent border entrants.

Officials said also the numbers show new enforcement tools, such as the Secure Communities fingerprint-sharing program, have been successful.

But critics said ICE is deporting mostly illegal immigrants with no criminal convictions or only misdemeanor convictions, and they say Secure Communities is not removing the right people.

A Dayton Daily News analysis on July 20 found that Secure Communities program — between January 2010 and April 30 — led to the deportation of 426 illegal immigrants in Ohio, including about 40 in the Miami Valley. Many of those people deported had no convictions or were convicted of misdemeanors.

Bookings lead 
to deportations

On Nov. 3, 2010, a Miami Twp. police officer stopped a 2000 Ford Excursion after the driver took a left turn and switched lanes without signaling, according to a police report.

The driver, later identified as Francisco Gomez-Kiroga, was not carrying any form of identification, and he told police his name was Javier Gomez-Quiyoga, according to the report.

He failed a field sobriety test, and after he was fingerprinted at the Montgomery County Jail, his prints were run through a biometrics identification system linked into the national immigration database, according to criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Immigration records showed Gomez-Kiroga, a citizen of Mexico, had been deported four times before and had been granted voluntary removals 19 times, according to the complaint.

Gomez-Kiroga ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of re-entry of a removed alien and U.S. District Judge Timothy Black sentenced him to three months in jail and ordered his deportation.

Gomez-Kiroga was identified as an illegal immigrant through Secure Communities, which is a national program where the fingerprints of people booked at local jails are checked against a federal immigration database.

The program was originally rolled out in 2008, but it was only implemented this year in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. Jails in Montgomery, Warren and Butler counties began participating last year, and jails in Greene and Miami counties went online in April.

Deportations in Ohio region

An estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants resided in Ohio in 2010, the same amount who lived in the state in 2007, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

In fiscal year 2010, ICE deported about 8,054 illegal immigrants in Ohio and Michigan, down slightly from 8,358 in 2009, but up from 8,010 in 2008 and 5,137 in 2007, according to ICE data.

Deportations of immigrants with criminal convictions in those two states increased to 3,504 in 2010 from 2,798 in 2009, 2,151 in 2008 and 1,286 in 2007, according to ICE.

Between fiscal years 2008 and 2010, the number of convicted criminals ICE removed nationwide increased 71 percent to 195,772 from 114,415, according to the agency.

During the same time frame, the number of non-criminal immigrants removed by ICE nationwide fell almost 23 percent, to 197,090 from 254,806, according to the agency.

ICE officials said Secure Communities has played a sizable role in increasing the number of criminal illegal immigrants deported. So far this year, Secure Communities accounted for about 30 percent of all deportations.

But Corey Price, assistant field office director with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Columbus, said Secure Communities is only a “tool