The Obama administration deported a record number of illegal immigrants in the 2010 fiscal year, according to figures released Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Of the 392,862 deportations from October 2009 through September of this year, about half were illegal immigrants with criminal records. The total was about 3,000 more deportations than the record set in the previous year.
The second straight year of record deportations from the U.S. reflects the approach of ICE under the Obama administration to focus its efforts on removing criminal illegal immigrants “who pose a national security or public safety threat,” Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary Matt Chandler said in a statement.
More than 195,000 criminals were deported in 2010, a 70% increase over 2008 in the forced removal of immigrant criminals. Officials credited the increase to programs such as Secure Communities, which focuses law enforcement resources on identifying illegal immigrants who have committed crimes and are being held in local and state jails.
The administration also has weathered criticism from liberals and conservatives over its deportation policy. Immigration reform advocates say President Obama has reneged on a campaign promise to overhaul the government’s immigration policy and instead has favored increased enforcement.
Critics on the right say ICE is selectively enforcing the immigration laws by focusing on criminals. When the ICE employees union announced a vote of no confidence in Morton’s leadership in June, it cited the agency’s focus on immigrant criminals.
Still unresolved is what to do about the millions of illegal immigrants living in the U.S.