US Deports Record Number of Undocumented Immigrants

The Obama administration deported a record number of undocumented immigrants for the third consecutive year, according to data released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday.

From October 2010 through September 2011, ICE removed 396,906 individuals from the country — about 4,000 more than in the previous fiscal year. Nearly 55 percent of those deported were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, the agency said.

There were 7,011 undocumented immigrants removed from New York state.

“Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities," ICE director John Morton said in a statement. "These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals … being removed from the country than ever before.”

The agency emphasized its focus on criminal aliens came as a result of implementation of programs such as Secure Communities, which was rolled out in October 2008 with the aim of removing serious criminal offenders from the country. But data showed that low-level offenders, as well as those without criminal convictions, were getting caught up in the program.

In June, Governor Andrew Cuomo withdrew New York from Secure Communities after "mounting evidence" showed that it failed its stated goal of deporting serious felons. Illinois and Massachusetts also pulled out of the program.

ICE said earlier this year that state and local jurisdictions could not terminate their participation in Secure Communities and plans nationwide activation of the program by 2013.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a statement to WNYC, criticized the administration’s deportation policy.

“These numbers are illustrative of an administration that’s been a bit schizophrenic on immigration matters,” Lieberman said. “The administration is trying to position itself as a champion of comprehensive immigration reform while it’s deporting record numbers of immigrants at the same time. Something doesn’t add up.”