WASHINGTON – The U.S. government deported a record number of undocumented immigrants in the 2010 fiscal year, officials said Wednesday.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, cited the figure during a press conference here to tout progress made over the past 20 months under President Barack Obama.
Of the 392,000 people deported by ICE agents during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, more than half – 195,000 – had been convicted of criminal offenses, the officials said.
Those numbers represent increases of more than 23,000 and 81,000, respectively, over the totals for the 2008 fiscal year, meaning that deportations of convicted criminals have risen by more than 70% from levels during the Bush administration, Napolitano said.
“This administration has focused on enforcing our immigration laws in a smart, effective manner that prioritizes public safety and national security and holds employers accountable who knowingly and repeatedly break the law,” she said.
DHS has also expanded the controversial Secure Communities program, which uses biometric data and other information to identify and deport undocumented immigrants in state and local jails.
Reviled by immigration advocates and human rights organizations, Secure Communities is now present in more than 600 jurisdictions, compared with only 14 when the program began two years ago, and DHS aims to establish it in every jurisdiction by 2013.
Napolitano and Morton also highlighted ICE’s stepped-up enforcement against employers who hire undocumented immigrants, with more than 3,200 workplace audits since January 2009 and the imposition of some $50 million in fines.
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