WASHINGTON – Deportations from the United States have dropped 20 percent over the past 10 months compared with the same period last year, to reach their lowest level since at least 2007 and represent the largest decline since Barack Obama has been in office, officials said.
Officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed to Efe that between the beginning of the current fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2013, and July 28 of this year, ICE deported 258,608 immigrants.
That figure signifies a drop of around 20 percent compared with the same period in fiscal year 2013, when 320,167 people were expelled, the officials said, asking for anonymity.
Though ICE has not yet released an official figure for deportations in fiscal year 2014, which ends on Sept. 30, estimates released Friday are the lowest since 2007 when there were 291,060 deportations, according to official data.
Obama has been called the “deporter in chief” by immigrant advocacy groups because deportations have surpassed a record 2 million during his presidency, though his administration seems to have renounced that practice as the chief executive studies possible executive action to ease the situation of the undocumented in this country.
Asked about the decline in deportations, the White House said that a possible cause could be Obama’s measures to shift resources to border regions to deal with the massive arrival of unaccompanied Central American minors.
“The shifting of those resources may have something to do with those numbers,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at his daily press conference.
Another probable cause is that, since the Obama administration decided in 2011 to focus on expelling undocumented immigrants with criminal records, other cases in the immigration courts have been delayed and, according to some studies, it now takes several years to order each deportation.
ICE noted as another factor the changes in immigration patterns, given that in recent months the deportation of Central Americans has increased and that of Mexicans has decreased.
“The expulsion of citizens who are not Mexicans requires more time to obtain travel documents and to schedule flights,” an ICE official told Efe.
Deportations from the United States topped 369,000 in fiscal year 2008 and continued to climb to more than 389,000 in 2009, more than 392,000 in 2010, and more than 396,000 in 2011, though they dropped in 2012 to around 366,300. Since then the decline has continued, according to ICE figures.