U.S. Deports 10 Percent Fewer People Last Fiscal Year

The Obama administration has released deportation numbers for the last fiscal year. For the first time since the president took office, fewer people were removed than the year before.

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The Obama administration has released a figure that caught our attention. It's the number of people deported from the United States during the past fiscal year. For the first time, since the President Obama took office, that number is smaller than the year before.

NPR's Ted Robbins has a look at why.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Three hundred sixty-eight immigrants were deported this past year. That's a lot of people but it's 10 percent fewer than the year before. A look at where people were deported from shows where enforcement resources were. Roughly two-thirds were apprehended near the U.S.-Mexico border. The rest were caught away from the border, largely by local police who hold immigrants for ICE - Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Here's the other number to consider, nearly 60 percent of those deported were convicted of a crime. But Marisa Franco, of the Not One More Deportation Campaign, says that number is deceptive.

MARISA FRANCO: I mean our reaction is that it's easy to say they're detaining and deporting criminals, when they've made it a crime to sneeze.

ROBBINS: An exaggeration, of course, but it's true that more and more immigrants are being held and prosecuted for immigration-related crimes, like crossing the border more than once.

FRANCO: A lot of those folks lived here, probably have family - they may be coming back to be with their children. And then they're caught at the border and they become felons.

ROBBINS: Those who want stronger enforcement say the numbers should be higher. But the president has been coming under increasing pressure: Immigrant rights activists say current policy is tearing families apart. The answer they say is for Congress to pass immigration reform.

Ted Robbins, NPR News.

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