For Leslie Cocche, the morning of March 12 began like any other school day.
She stood at the Fort Lauderdale Tri-Rail station listening to music through her ear buds while awaiting the train to Miami, where she attends Miami Dade College.
Suddenly, a U.S. Border Patrol agent began questioning her, eventually discovering that the 18-year-old Peruvian was in the country illegally. Cocche was arrested, handcuffed and handed over for deportation proceedings.
Cocche's detention, along with many other recent arrests of undocumented immigrants in South Florida and across the country, have raised questions about whether the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is misleading the public about enforcement.
In contrast to the controversial Arizona state law that would allow police officers to request immigration papers from individuals only after they stop them for suspicions activities, federal immigration agents are allowed to demand documents from any foreign national at any time.
After President Barack Obama took office, Homeland Security said that immigration authorities would focus on removing convicted foreign criminals — a shift that initially encouraged those who saw it as a prelude to legalization of the nation's estimated 10.8 million undocumented immigrants.
But now Homeland Security is under fire by disillusioned activists who believe the Obama administration is only paying lip service to a different strategy, and that in reality it is detaining criminal and noncriminal immigrants the same way the administration of George W. Bush did.
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