The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency oversaw the deportation of 396,906 individuals in fiscal year 2011, the agency’s director, John Morton, recently announced.
The total represents the largest single-year number of deportations in ICE’s history. Morton said the agency is “making progress” when it comes to deporting high-priority individuals, with an 89 percent increase in criminal deportations since 2008. According to ICE, 1,119 deported individuals in 2011 were convicted of homicide and 5,848 were sexual offenders.
“Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing those priorities,” Morton said.
In August, President Barack Obama instructed the Department of Homeland Security to review all pending deportations to focus on violent criminals and other cases with national security implications. Critics characterized this as a backdoor way to grant amnesty to non-criminal illegal immigrants.
Speaking recently at American University, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pushed back against the president’s detractors, pointing out that border patrol agents have seized historic amounts of currency, drugs and weapons along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Obama presidency. She said the forthcoming deportation numbers would also be at historically high levels.
While Napolitano’s prediction of high deportation figures has been borne out, the numbers have not appeased all the president’s critics, such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas.
“The Obama administration continues to inflate its deportation numbers,” Smith stated. “The administration includes voluntary removals in its deportation statistics even though they impose no penalties on the offenders and make it easier for illegal immigrants to return to the U.S.”
The National Immigration Forum responded to the deportation numbers by pointing out that the deportation process costs about $23,000 per individual. Rather than taking pride in the high numbers, lawmakers should see them as a “fiscal black hole for American taxpayers,” the group stated.