USCIS Director John Morton (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
In 2011, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deported the most immigrants in its history, immigration officials announced Tuesday.
USCIS director John Morton said that a total of 400,000 people were removed from the country during the last fiscal year. If the affected countries are similar to those in 2010, the deportations are likely to have an impact on the thousands of Black immigrants from nations in Africa and the Caribbean that call the U.S. home.
Although the official data for the 2011 fiscal year has yet to be released, in 2010, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Nigeria all made the list of the top 10 countries where most of the country’s deported immigrants come from.
Speaking on the 2011 data, Morton said around 55 percent of those deported had felony or misdemeanor convictions. Although many of the deported included people convicted of serious crimes such as homicide, sexual offenses and drug-related crimes, immigrants can catch felony convictions for violations such as returning to the U.S. or being found in the U.S. after being ordered by the government to leave.
"This comes down to focusing our resources as best we can on our priorities," Mr. Morton said. "We continue to hope for comprehensive immigration reform at a national level, working with the Congress, but in the meantime, we work with the resources we have, under the laws we have."
The numbers come just months after the Obama administration announced that immigration officials will shift their focus to solely deporting immigrants who have criminal records or who pose a threat to society. However, some say that the action is not enough to save resources given the financial strain that the deportation process puts on the national purse.