Deportations often start in county jails

Published 10:10 am Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In the first four months of 2010, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deported 3,127 people from the five-state region that includes Minnesota. Many of the immigrants came to authorities’ attention when they were booked into county jails.

Although federal immigration authorities say their top priority is deporting criminals, fewer than half the people returned to their home countries had any criminal convictions.

Immigration agents visit the Hennepin and Ramsey County jails daily, looking through booking sheets for people who might be in the country illegally. They can see which inmates self-report a country of origin other than the United States. They can meet with inmates to ask follow-up questions and place holds on them. Inmates can be transferred to federal custody once local law enforcement finishes processing them.

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