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Report: ICE raids targeted non-criminals

Feb. 4, 2009 at 8:31 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. House Judiciary Committee member Lamar Smith on Wednesday defended the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements' fugitive alien apprehension program.

Responding to a report by the Migration Policy Institute that the program has netted non-criminals, the Texas Republican said in a statement that the program has helped protect Americans.

"It is critical that ICE continue to prioritize the arrests of fugitive aliens, whether or not they also happen to have criminal records," Lamar said. "To give non-criminal fugitives a pass is to send the message that a judge's deportation order doesn't matter; it is a message of amnesty for lawbreakers."

Government records obtained by the researchers and shared with The New York Times show that administrative moves within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement switched the emphasis of a house-raid strategy from arresting and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records to randomly sweeping up undocumented people, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

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