The Dallas Morning News has a carefully-researched story today breaking down the charges against the illegal immigrants who have been deported from Irving, Texas after being arrested or detained by the Irving police. Surprisingly, only about 9% of the charges were felonies — the type of charge that would normally cause someone to be deported by USCIS. So more than 90% of those deported as a result of a police stop in Irving were deported for “minor” violations of the law. Here are excerpts from the story:
Most of the charges faced by the 1,638 illegal immigrants arrested in Irving and placed in federal custody over the last 13 months are misdemeanors, according to a Police Department report released Wednesday.
The department’s Immigration Enforcement Report details 3,901 local criminal charges filed against 1,638 illegal immigrants who were held at the city jail where federal officials also filed illegal immigration charges against them between Sept. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30 of this year.
The report was released after a controversy over the department’s 24/7 Criminal Alien Program, which allows agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to conduct routine telephone interviews with inmates at the city jail to determine their immigration status.
Hispanic activist Carlos Quintanilla said he and other immigration reform advocates believe the Irving Police Department is engaging in racial profiling because the overwhelming majority of the 1,638 illegal immigrants came from Mexico and other Latin American nations.
Mr. Quintanilla said the program unfairly deports immigrants for misdemeanors. He and other activists are organizing a march and protest in downtown Irving on Saturday afternoon.
“If they had been arrested anywhere else, they would not have been deported,” Mr. Quintanilla said. “They’re obviously overzealously targeting our community. I think the numbers speak for themselves.”
Police Department spokesman David Tull said 14,000 people were arrested in Irving during the same time, but only 1,638 of them were flagged by federal officials for illegal immigration violations.
“Part of being a respectable part of society is to follow the laws, rules and guidelines set out by the community,” Officer Tull said. “The more you get away from that, the more chaos there is.”
More than 63 percent of the 3,901 criminal charges filed against the 1,638 illegal immigrants were listed as misdemeanors, including outstanding traffic tickets, outstanding warrants, assault, theft, criminal mischief and prostitution.
Another 16 percent were arrested on suspicion of DWI or public intoxication offenses, while almost 12 percent of the charges filed were listed as driving without a license or driving with a suspended or invalid driver’s license.
The report shows that 9 percent of the criminal charges filed against the illegal immigrants were listed as felonies, including murder, aggravated assault, sexual assault and illegal drug possession.
Officer Tull said Irving police take traffic offenses very seriously and that the department has seen a dramatic increase in the number of warrants for people who did not pay traffic tickets or comply with court orders.
According to Police Department figures, the number of tickets issued has remained about the same over the past five years, but the number of people with outstanding warrants for nonpayment or failing to comply with court orders has increased from 1 percent in fiscal 2001-02 to 15 percent in 2006-07.
Officer Tull said that the majority of those warrants are for people who gave incorrect or false information to police officers and that perhaps some could be illegal immigrants who provided false names or other information.
But Mr. Quintanilla called the report an example of “backtracking,” citing that the figures show that 91 percent of the illegal immigrants who were arrested committed nonviolent crimes.
He said legal immigrants with green cards can only lose their status by being convicted of felonies, not misdemeanors.
Here’s a look at the number and types of charges filed by Irving police against 1,638 illegal immigrants arrested in Irving and turned over to federal authorities from Sept. 1, 2006, through Sept. 30 of this year.
Felony crimes (including murder, aggravated assault, rape and theft)
Driving without a license
Invalid or suspended license
DWI or public intoxication
Other misdemeanors (including outstanding tickets; assault; drug possession and prostitution)