In the midst of the new Prosecutorial Discretion Policy and Memos pronounced by the Obama administration and John Morton, it is pretty ironic that ICE recently reported that nearly 400,000 aliens were deported in fiscal year 2011. The Huffington Post states that according to John Morton, the Immigration and Customs Director, these numbers are the largest in the agency’s history. 55 percent of those deported had criminal records, which includes either felonies and/or misdemeanors. These are sobering numbers. Of course, it is important that those convicted of felonies and who present a danger to society ought to be removed if they clearly do not have or are entitled to some sort of status. On the other hand, those convicted of misdemeanors fall into a more questionable group. In New Jersey, a misdemeanor is arguably analogous to a disorderly persons offense, which is technically not even a “crime.” A disorderly persons type of offense is handled in our State’s municipal court, and runs the gamut from simple assault to shoplifting. Is it fair or conscionable to classify someone convicted or pressured into pleading guilty of shoplifting as a criminal alien and target him/her for removal? Regardless of what you think, the reality is that individuals who are not US citizens with convictions for even disorderly persons grade offenses are vulnerable. Among those deported, 80,000 people had convictions for drug related crimes or driving under the influence.
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