MARCH 26, 2007
Immigration authorities are finally beginning to enforce an 11-year-old law that says foreign nationals convicted of aggravated felonies must be deported, even if they have legal U.S. residency.
For more than a decade such offenders were simply released under an honor system and ordered to show up weeks later at an immigration office for possible deportation. Most were caught reentering the country through U.S. airports yet were released even though officials admit they posed a serious public danger.
Perhaps that is what motivated them to finally enforce the law by implementing a pilot program at a major U.S. airport that handles among the nation’s highest number of arriving foreign nationals. The system will check the names of arriving green-card holders against a huge database of court records, terror watch lists and other law enforcement information.
Any foreigner with a criminal past is immediately detained, rather than released, and put in deportation proceedings as per U.S. federal law. So far immigrants that have been caught include felons convicted of serious crimes such as manslaughter, rape, assault, drug trafficking, grand theft and kidnapping.
Incredibly enough, those serious offenders were actually released into the general population until recently. Not surprisingly, most violated the so-called honor system and never showed up at their immigration hearing. Since implementing the new program at several Florida airports, authorities have caught hundreds of dangerous felons, most of them at Miami International Airport where the number of people detained has quadrupled.
Now U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at those Florida airports detain the foreign criminals and immediately begin deportation proceedings. The much-needed system is certain to be applied at other major U.S. airports where foreign criminals are frequently released into unsuspecting communities.
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