Deportation order could bring jail time during appeal

By Teresa Borden, April 27, 2004; published in the Atlanta Contitution-Journal

Thousands of people ordered deported after their cases fail in immigration court could face jail time under a new policy of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Previously, they could be released after a judge issued a deportation order to make arrangements before leaving.

But in a program being tested in Atlanta and Denver, bureau officials detain them when they walk out of the courtroom. They are held in county facilities that have a contract with the federal government.

Federal officials say the new policy, announced at the end of March, is an effort to cut down on absconders, those who "go underground" after they are ordered to leave the country.

Larry Orton, a bureau supervisor in Atlanta, said a February 2003 report identifying the agency's biggest challenges showed that immigration officials sent only 13 percent of deportees home under the old policy. And that figure was a meager 2-percentage-point increase from the 11 percent of deportees sent home seven years earlier...

The agency estimated 40,000 absconders each year. In a news release announcing the new policy, it said an estimated 400,000 such deportees continue to reside in the United States and that 80,000 of them have criminal convictions...

Read the complete article in the Atlanta Contitution-Journal.