LA Times Washington Bureau
May 26, 2012
In an aggressive effort to boost deportations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun to increase by nearly 25% the number of agents tasked with finding and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records, pulling 150 officers from desks and backroom jobs to add extra fugitive search teams around the country.
The plan was launched when the number of deportations slumped after several years of growth, partly due to the drop in illegal immigration along the Southwest border. But critics, including some inside ICE, denounced the effort as politically inspired to help President Obama’s reelection campaign.
The move, which began without public notice on May 14, calls for increasing the number of fugitive operations teams to 129 from 104. Each team has been given a goal of arresting 50 suspects per month, according to documents obtained by The Times, although ICE officials insisted Friday that no quotas were set for the teams.