Just 1 percent of illegal immigrants living in the United States last year were deported — a dramatic 25 percent drop from the previous year — a change the Obama Administration says is on purpose due to a shift in focus.
The administration cites putting more focus on border security, those that have just recently crossed and illegal immigrants with steep criminal records as opposed to those who are living in the United States peacefully.
As a result, in fiscal 2013 ended Sept. 30, only 133,551 illegal immigrants living in the country were deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, The Washington Times reported
"Increasing border security is a top priority, and the results you see today clearly illustrate our ongoing commitment to this goal," said John Sandweg, the acting director of ICE.
There also has been a 10 percent drop in deportations when border and interior deportations are combined. In 2013, a total of 368,644 interior and border illegal immigrants were deported, compared with almost 410,000 in 2012.
It is the lowest number of deportations since President Barack Obama took office.
However, neither side of the immigration debate is happy with these numbers.
Immigration rights advocates say that over 2 million illegal immigrants have been deported since Obama became president — many of which they allege were inhumane since many of those deported are parents of young children.
"How much longer do we have to stand by and watch our families get torn apart by unscrupulous immigration agents?" asked Eddie Carmona of the Campaign for Citizenship.
Activists take issue with Sandweg's claim that a large majority of those deported were criminals.
Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said that "this White House has practically made sneezing a criminal act for immigrants."
Those who want more enforcement of immigration laws question why the deportations are so low since Homeland Security actually had a 10 percent increase in its deportation budget last year.
Sandweg said that not all illegal immigrants are from Mexico, and they are expensive to deport.
"This information further reveals that the administration has been manipulating its figures to mislead the public," said Stephen Miller, spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. "The administration's catch-and-release policy not only needlessly jeopardizes public safety but undermines the wages and employment of struggling workers."
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