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Study: New Jersey ranks among top ten states for deportations

Without question, immigration has emerged as one of the most controversial and pressing issues since the Trump administration assumed control of the executive branch back in January. Indeed, from the proposed travel ban to the more recent efforts to reform the H-1B visa system, many questions remain as to what course will be plotted by the White House in this area over the next four years.

One area in which the administration has already made its position clear, however, is deportation, with President Trump vowing that deportations of undocumented immigrants with criminal records by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will continue in earnest.

According to ICE, 240,255 people were removed from the U.S. or returned to their home countries in fiscal year 2016, with 174,923 people apprehended while attempting to enter the U.S. The agency also maintains that of the remaining 65,332 people removed from the country, "the vast majority were convicted criminals."

Interestingly enough, the results of a recently published study by a state media organization indicates that the majority of people removed from the U.S. over the last five years were never actually convicted of any crimes.

Indeed, after examining records maintained by the Syracuse University-based Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, the group found that from 2011 through the first quarter of 2016, 56 percent of people in New Jersey who were deported had no criminal record.

Furthermore, of the remaining 44 percent of people who were deported and had a criminal record, only one out of five had committed an offense that could be classified as very serious.

In addition to finding that the Garden State remained among the top ten states for deportations in 2016, the group also found that people from New Jersey were deported to nations all over the world, with the largest numbers going back to China (5), Brazil (4), Colombia (3), India (2) and Mexico (1).

The point in sharing this information was not to cause unnecessary alarm, but rather to impress upon people the reality that the risk of deportation -- regardless of criminal record -- has always been very high and will very likely remain as such -- if not higher -- in the coming years.

The good news is that those facing this very real problem do have legal options and that this is the case even if they have been accused of a crime

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