CHARLOTTE, NC. – Organizations that defend the rights of immigrants in North Carolina said yesterday that they are not surprised of the involvement of immigration agents at checkpoints, with the purpose to detain illegal immigrants and increase their "quota" of deportees.
"We are not surprised. Because we knew what was going on in the community, but now we have proof in writing that what immigration has been upholding for years: that their priority is criminals. Is not true" said the executive director for Immigrant Rights of North Carolina, Marty Rosenbluth.
The newspaper USA Today published this past weekend an article about a series of emails sent by a former official of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who in April 2012 sent several emails concerning the decrease in deportation numbers.
In these emails that were revealed, ICE used a "quotas" criteria and suggested strategies to increase deportations of illegal immigrants.
To meet the goal, former supervisor of Secure Communities, David Venturella, who now works at a company that operates immigrant detention centers, proposed for ICE agents to be involved in police traffic checkpoints.
In the fiscal year 2012, the agency implemented a record 409,849 deportations nationwide, up from 396,906 the previous year.
These emails were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as part of their own investigation of the detentions that were done at police checkpoints.
According to an investigation, at least fifteen immigrants were arrested during a safety seat belt checkpoint on the morning of May 15, 2012 in Jackson County, where both local officers and ICE agents were present.
According to Raul Pinto who is an ACLU lawyer, he told Efe that "ICE agents not only were involved in traffic checkpoints but also proposed to obtain records of immigrants who had applied for a driver’s licenses at the DMV."
"This information is very disturbing: A clear violation of the constitutional rights of the people, promoting racial profiling by local and ICE agents to maintain a 'quota' of deportees" Pinto added.
"There could of possibly have been more checkpoints and arbitrary arrests that we don’t know about, that’s why we always remind the community to not be afraid and report these type of activities," said Pinto.