Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Obama Administration Sets a New Deportation Record

The Obama administration, committed to what I have characterized as the "enforcement now, enforcement forever" immigration policy, has set records in deportations year after year. This year is no different.

As a part of the administration's political push for comprhenensive immigration reform, enforcement has been its top immigration priority. Although deportations are at record levels, a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants and changes to the legal immigration provisions of the U.S. immigration laws seem unlikely during President Obama's first term in office.

Here is the latest press release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

"FY 2011: ICE announces year-end removal numbers, highlights focus on key priorities including threats to public safety and national security

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton today announced the agency's fiscal year 2011 year-end removal numbers, highlighting trends that underscore the administration's focus on removing individuals from the country that fall into priority areas for enforcement. These priorities include the identification and removal of those that have broken criminal laws, threats to national security, recent border crossers, repeat violators of immigration law and immigration court fugitives.

"Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities," said Director Morton. "These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before. Though we still have work to do, this progress is a testament to the hard work and dedication of thousands of ICE agents, officers and attorneys around the country."

Overall, in FY 2011 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 396,906 individuals — the largest number in the agency's history. Of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals since FY 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence. ICE achieved similar results with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Ninety percent of all ICE's removals fell into a priority category and more than two-thirds of the other removals in 2011 were either recent border crossers or repeat immigration violators.

Secretary Napolitano has directed ICE to focus its resources as effectively as possible on key priorities. This includes expanding the use and frequency of investigations and programs like Secure Communities and Operation Cross Check, that target criminal aliens; working closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to remove recent border crossers; and focusing on repeat violators of immigration laws and immigration fugitives.

As part of the effort to ensure that the immigration system can focus its resources on high priority cases, ICE has implemented policies and processes that ensure that those enforcing immigration laws make appropriate use of the discretion they already have in deciding the types of individuals prioritized for removal from the country.

ICE will continue to analyze its policies and the results of its programs, making improvements where necessary to meet our priorities."

UPDATE (10/18): The commentary on the latest removal record from the immigrant rights crowd is less than complimentary. See, for example, here and here.



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