The U.S. administration denied Monday that the majority of the more than 2 million deportations since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009 have been of people who committed minor offenses, as The New York Times reported.
Ninety-eight percent of deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been in line with the priorities set by the administration, with a focus on threats to national security, public safety and border security, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The great majority of deportees were convicted of major crimes, such as aggravated offenses or repeated infractions.
The White House has said the only ones expelled from the country are undocumented immigrants with a criminal record, members of organized crime, or those who hurt the community, though an investigation published Monday by The New York Times indicates that two-thirds of the more than 2 million deportations since Obama took office were of people who had committed minor offenses, such as traffic violations.
Carney said that Obama’s priority is to promote immigration reform that regularizes the status of the some 11 million undocumented immigrants who risk being expelled from the country.
“The president has made clear, he remains deeply concerned about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system,” the White House press secretary said.
Though Obama came to power promising to speed up comprehensive immigration reform, the number of deportations has actually increased, particularly among those who commit minor misdemeanors.
Carney said there is no other alternative for halting deportations than passing immigration reform.
The Senate passed a bipartisan reform measure last June, but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has declined to take up the matter.