Deportations of Undocumented Immigrants Increase Under Obama

Border fence marking the U.S. - Mexico border at Border State Park in California. (Photo jlantzy/flickr)

Even as the Obama administration asks Congress to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform and the president says he is in favor of a path to legalization for law-abiding immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is deporting more people now than under the Bush administration: around 400,000 a year.

The current era is one of contradicting messages and promises from the federal government. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it prioritizes the removal of immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes (even green card holders can get a deportation order if they have been convicted of an aggravated felony) but the majority of deportees have committed no crime outside of crossing the border illegally or overstaying their visa. And new data shows that the vast majority of those who were convicted of crimes were guilty of minor offenses, including traffic violations. Only 1 in 6 have committed serious crimes.

These are the latest numbers, courtesy of Deportation Nation and TRAC:

  • ICE has deported 279,035 immigrants in 2010 compared to 254,763 at this same point last year.
  • The number of non-citizens deported in the first nine months of FY 2010 is up 10 percent from 2008, the last comparable year under the Bush administration.
  • The pace of deportation for immigrants convicted of crimes is an an all time high: 60 percent more than the last year of the Bush administration, and 37 percent above Obama’s first year in office.
  • Still, more than half of those deported so far in FY 2010 – 51 percent – had no criminal record.

There are over 1,000 deportations a day in the U.S. So what does it look, sound, and feel like during an immigration bust?

WNYC radio producer Marianne McCune gives us a window into the daily work of one of ICE’s Fugitive Operations teams, and speaks to one Moroccan immigrant couple they are trying to deport. Listen here:

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