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Immigration Reports Record Deportations

A record number of illegal immigrants were deported last year from the three-state region that includes North Carolina. Nearly 18,000 illegal immigrants were deported from the Carolinas and Georgia during the last 12 months, compared to 11,000 the previous year. Assistant Atlanta Field Office Director Stephen Redmon credits increased enforcement and support from local agencies, including the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's department. "It's a force multiplier, if you will, through those partnerships," says Redmon. "Specifically, I think a little over 9,000 criminal aliens were identified through the 287 (g) program, alone." The 287 (g) program gives law enforcement agencies the power to initiate deportation for illegal immigrants jailed for other crimes. Mecklenburg County was one of the first law enforcement agencies to join the program. Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chipp Bailey saw 2,200 of the deportees come through his jail over the last 12 months - mainly on misdemeanor charges and traffic violations. Most were also Hispanic. Community advocates say the sheriff's active role in deporting immigrants has many Hispanics afraid to report crimes like domestic violence. But Bailey says those fears are unfounded. "In Mecklenburg County, no one who is a victim of a crime should be concerned," says Bailey. "And if the guy's arrested and brought to jail for domestic violence, then we'll probably find out if he's illegal. But the victim, we're not going to ask and the police are not going to ask if she's illegal." Sheriff Bailey says it doesn't divert resources from fighting other crime, because it only applies to immigrants already in jail.