Report Says Immigration Enforcement Has Changed Over The Years – Not Always For The Better


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Immigration enforcement has changed significantly ever since Congress approved a sweeping immigration bill in 1996, according to a new report.
The report, released Tuesday by the Migration Policy Institute, finds that 4.5 million people have been deported ever since Congress approved the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. It also identifies three key immigration enforcement trends that emerged following the approval of the 1996 legislation.
SEE ALSO: Both sides of immigration debate criticize latest removal numbers
1. Formal removals
The number of people who go through a formal removal process has increased tremendously, rising from about 70,000 in 1996 to nearly 420,000 in 2012.
When immigrants go through a formal removal process, they are charged with immigration-related criminal offenses. These charges make them ineligible for a visa to return to the United States and places them on the priority list for deportation if they re-enter the country unlawfully in the future.
Between 1970 and 1996, most people caught crossing the border illegally or living in the U.S. without the proper documentation did not go through a formal removal process. Instead, they were simply ordered to “voluntarily return” to their home country.
2. Non-judicial removal procedures
There’s been an expansion of the use of non-judicial removal procedures. This occurs when people are deported without going before a judge.
Previously, people often attended a court hearing where an immigration judge decided if they should be removed. But that has changed. Now, more immigration enforcement officials, rather than immigration judges, are making deportation decisions.
The report finds that non-judicial removals accounted for 75 percent of all deportations in fiscal year 2012, compared to 3 percent in fiscal year 1996.
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