Although President Obama supports setting a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, his administration deported a record 1.5 million of them in his first term.
In addition, the latest data released by the government in recent days show that an unprecedented 409,849 people were deported for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The increase from the previous year occurred despite policy changes ordered by Obama to reduce the deportations of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants.
Roughly 55 percent, or more than 225,000 people, deported in the past year were convicted of crimes such as drug offenses and driving under the influence. Immigration officials note that they deported nearly twice as many convicted criminals as in the year before Obama took office. That year, in 2008, criminals made up about a third of all deportations.
The administration says the figures demonstrate that the shift in enforcement to focus on criminals is working.
Priority cases include felons, repeat violators of immigration laws, people who have recently crossed U.S. borders illegally and those who pose a national security threat, the White House says.
But immigrant advocates, including Latino politicians and civil rights groups, criticized the figures as evidence that Obama’s policy changes don’t sufficiently protect unintended targets.
Read more at NPR.