President Barack Obama is on pace this year to deport the fewest number of immigrants since at least 2007, even as he has postponed until after Election Day his promised unilateral action that could shield millions more from deportation.
According to an analysis of Homeland Security Department figures by The Associated Press, the federal agency responsible for deportations sent home 258,608 immigrants between the start of the budget year last October and July 28 this summer. During the same period a year earlier, it removed 320,167 people – meaning a decrease this year of nearly 20 percent.
Over the same period ending in July 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 344,624 people, some 25 percent more than this year, according to the federal figures obtained by the AP.
The figures, contained in weekly internal reports marked “Official Use Only,” reflect the marked decline in deportations even as Obama has delayed announcing what changes he will make to U.S. immigration policies. …
There are two principal reasons why fewer immigrants already are being deported:
-The Obama administration decided as early as summer 2011 to focus its deportation efforts on criminal immigrants or those who posed a threat to national security or public safety. …
-As Border Patrol agents detain more people from countries in Central America, not Mexico, the volume and circumstances of the cases take more time for overwhelmed immigration officials and courts to process because, among other reasons, the U.S. must fly such immigrants home rather than letting them walk back across the border into Mexico.