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Immigrant Rights Group Wants Probe Of Deportation Program

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Immigrant groups and their supporters stage a protest rally. (Photo credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Immigrant groups and their supporters stage a protest rally. (Photo credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate its own Secure Communities program for deporting illegal aliens after encounters with local police.

John Hoyt, Executive Director of the Coalition, says the deportation program has been cooking its books to justify its mission. Federal immigration authorities say they’re just improving the accuracy of their data.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s John Cody reports

Hoyt says original Homeland Security numbers showed that 78% of all those stopped by local police and handed over to feds for deportation were non-criminals — had no prior criminal record.

But Hoyt says when asked about those numbers, Homeland Security revised its figures to show that only 44% were non-criminal.

Hoyt says either way, it still looks bad and should be investigated by the Inspector General of the Homeland Security Department.

Meantime, mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel’s suggestion to provide a local DREAM Act scholarship for children of undocumented immigrants in Chicago was drawing fire from his rivals and Hispanic leaders as too little, too late.

U.S. Rep. Luis Guiterrez said the scholarship idea is fine with him, but claimed Emanuel should have done more to prevent deportations in the first place while he was White House chief of staff and, before that, one of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun said Chicago should be doing more to aid children of undocumented immigrants.

“When you talk about the DREAM Act and when you talk about the fate of children who are separated from their parents, I have to reflect back on the fact that this belies and this stands in stark contracts to the higher traditions of Americans,” Braun said.

And mayoral rival Gery Chico blasted the Secure Communities program – an Obama administration initiative begun while Emanuel was White House chief of staff. The deportation program is designed to remove dangerous criminals from the country, but critics said many people who have been targeted by the program are simply motorists stopped for traffic violations.

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