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Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants for serious crimes, and minor infractions

With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”

But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.

The LA Times obtained a report criticizing the U.S. Border Patrol for a “lack of diligence” and its use of tactics that may give officers an excuse to open fire. The report by law enforcement experts was the result of a review commissioned by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Of 67 cases involving border patrol officers reviewed by the Police Executive Research Forum, 19 resulted in death.

"A short stretch across the fence from this road, just a few hundred yards long, is perhaps the one spot along the entire U.S.-Mexico border where Border Patrol agents are most likely to be attacked with rocks and to respond with force," the Arizona Republic reported.

"Roughly one in every six incidents along the entire 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border in which agents used force against rock throwers in recent years occurred here, across the fence from three adjacent streets leading to the fence in Nogales, Ariz., an investigation by The Arizona Republic has found."

Read the full story here.

Although President Obama maintains that federal officials are focusing deportation efforts on violent criminals, a Baltimore Sun analysis revealed that a high percentage of the cases in Maryland and some other states involve immigrants with no criminal record. In Maryland, for example, more than 40 percent of the immigrants deported under a sweeping federal program called Secure Communities have no prior criminal record — twice the national average. The Sun told the story through the eyes of families affected deportations.

"As part of an on-going investigation, Fusion has learned that 13 pregnant women were detained in an immigration detention center in El Paso between August and November of 2013," Fusion reports. Read the full story here.

"Following an uproar by residents and some members of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security has opened an investigation into whether $15 million in tax dollars to build housing for Border Patrol agents here was improperly spent," The Arizona Republic reports. Read the full story here.

Unjustified | Newsday
“Report reveals how cop shot unarmed man - and kept his job.”

Secret files reveal how pay-to-play works in N.J. | The Star-Ledger
“A special report by The Star-Ledger exposes how one politically connected engineering firm parlayed campaign donations into millions of dollars in public contracts, all the while keeping the scheme hidden from the public. An analysis of the records, meticulously kept and numbering 137 pages, found Birdsall made more than 1,000 secret campaign contributions worth in excess of $1 million to politicians of all stripes and in all corners of New Jersey. At the same time, the company cashed in on more than $84 million in public contracts.”

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend’s many enterprise stories from around the country. We'll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online. Did we miss something? Email suggestions to

Female workers face rape, harassment in US agriculture industry | The Center for Investigative Reporting
“Hundreds of female agricultural workers have complained to the federal government about being raped and assaulted, verbally and physically harassed on the job, while law enforcement has done almost nothing to prosecute potential crimes.”

Under the Curse of Cartels | The Oregonian
“In a nine-month investigation, The Oregonian has learned that Mexican cartels, including the powerful Sinaloa and the brutal Los Zetas, have infiltrated almost every corner of Oregon. At last count, authorities were aware of no fewer than 69 drug trafficking organizations selling drugs in the state, nearly all supplied by cartels.”

Computer Industry, Unions Big Donors to Immigration Bill Supporters |
“The 27 senators who voted against the amendment, which strengthens border security but is also a step towards passing the overall immigration package, on average received very little money from those three types of groups, but did receive heavy support from donors in the agribusiness industry.”

Top Medicare prescribers rake in spending fees from drug makers | ProPublica
“Data obtained and analyzed by ProPublica suggest another factor in the drug Bystolic's rapid success: Many of the drug's top prescribers have financial ties to Forest Laboratories, its maker.”

Sodomy Hazing Leaves 13-Year-Old Victim Outcast in Colorado Town | Bloomberg News
“High-school hazing and bullying used to involve name-calling, towel-snapping and stuffing boys into lockers. Now, boys sexually abusing other boys is part of the ritual. More than 40 high school boys were sodomized with foreign objects by their teammates in over a dozen alleged incidents reported in the past year, compared with about three incidents a decade ago, according to a Bloomberg review of court documents and news accounts.”

In Debate Over Military Sexual Assault, Men Are Overlooked Victims | The New York Times
“In a debate that has focused largely on women, this fact is often overlooked: the majority of service members who are sexually assaulted each year are men.”

Washington Monthly reports that "over the past five years U.S. border agents have shot across the border at least ten times, killing a total of six Mexicans on Mexican soil." According to the report, border patrol shootings were a rarity before 2009, with only a handful occurring. But after an increase in border patrol agentst between 2006 and 2009, "a disturbing pattern of excessive use of force has emerged."

"Since 2005, immigration has been criminalized as never before. In 2000, when George W. Bush came into office, there were about 10,000 convictions for illegal entry and re-entry—essentially crossing the border illegally; in 2011, even as the number of people crossing the border had plummeted during the Obama administration, there were more than 71,000 such convictions—a 700 percent increase. Immigration is now the most-prosecuted federal crime, surpassing weapons, white-collar crimes and even drugs. Locking up unprecedented numbers of immigrants has swelled the federal prison system. New prisons are being constructed at a rapid pace, most of them privately run. Unlike the rest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons system, prisons for immigrants are completely privatized. So while the mass criminalization of immigrants has torn parents from their families, removed skilled people from the workforce and had a debatable impact on border security, the policy has served one interest very well—private-prison companies," according to an investigation by the Texas Observer.

According to documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reportingapplicants who have sought sensitive law enforcement jobs in recent years with the U.S. Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, admitted to a host of astonishing crimes during the application process, including rape, kidnapping.

"The records – official summaries of more than 200 polygraph admissions – raise alarms about the thousands of employees Customs and Border Protection has hired over the past six years before it began mandatory polygraph tests for all applicants six months ago," according to CIR. "The required polygraphs come at the tail end of a massive hiring surge that began in 2006 and eventually added 17,000 employees, helping to make the agency the largest law enforcement operation in the country."

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