Photo: US Deportations
The Obama administration is projected to deport 16 percent fewer undocumented immigrants in the 2013 fiscal year than it had in 2012, according to the latest Immigration and Customs Enforcement data obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek. The number of deportees categorized as “criminals” was up five percent from the previous year — a possible signal that the Obama administration is focusing its efforts to deport serious offenders.
Between October 1, 2012 and September 7, 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials deported 343,020 undocumented immigrants, as compared to 409,849 deportees from the previous year. Even with the 2013 fiscal year ending on September 30, 2013, the number of removals points to a “six year low” record. Fifty-eight percent of those deported in the fiscal 2013 year were classified as “criminals,” whereas 55 percent (or 225,390) of deportees were classified as “criminal” immigrants in 2012.
The rise in criminal deportees provides an encouraging narrative for the Obama administration, which has emphasized focusing “enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally”, especially those “who endanger our communities.” But the deportation statistics released to Bloomberg Businessweek still mean that 42 percent of immigrants were deported for non-criminal offenses — a figure sure to raise eyebrows among irate activists and concerned House Democrats who have demanded Obama put a pause on deportations that tear families apart.
Since 2011, the Obama administration has released “prosecutorial discretion” memos directing federal immigration officials to avert prosecuting certain undocumented immigrants who have non-serious offenses. That group includes nearly 500,000 undocumented immigrants under 31 years old, parents of U.S. citizen children, and immediate family members of military personnel.
Still, prosecutorial discretion is not a mandate. And at least some immigrants, who would otherwise qualify for discretion, are still caught up in the deportation dragnet for minor traffic violations.