Photo: ICE reports record deportations
This week federal immigration officials announced that it had deported nearly 400,000 people in the last fiscal year, the largest number of deportations in history.
On Tuesday, John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said 55 percent of those deported had felony or misdemeanor convictions, an increase of 89 percent from 2008.
Of the 396,906 people deported, more than 1,000 had been convicted of homicide, 5,800 were sex offenders, and roughly 80,000 people had been convicted of drug-related crimes or driving under the influence.
“We continue to hope for comprehensive immigration reform at a national level, working with the Congress, but in the meantime, we work with the resources we have, under the laws we have,” Morton said.
The increasing number of criminals deported comes as part of President Obama’s immigration strategy in which he focuses primarily on dangerous illegal immigrants rather than law abiding individuals seeking to make a living.
To that end, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has said her agency has allocated more resources to capturing criminals, recent border crossers, fugitives, and those who repeatedly cross the border.
Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, criticized the announcement stating that the statistics were inflated. Smith, a frequent critic of the Obama administration’s immigration policies, said the numbers included people who voluntarily left the country without penalties and can eventually sneak back into the United States.
“We could free up millions of jobs for citizens and legal immigrants if we simply enforced our immigration laws,” he said.
The National Immigration Forum, a Washington D.C. based immigration advocacy organization, also criticized the administration.
“At $23,000 per individual to go through the complete deportation process, immigration enforcement without fixing our broken system is not sustainable,” it said in a statement. “We cannot continue to spend billions of dollars, year after year, while denying we have a more fundamental problem — that our immigration system no longer serves America well.”