US Immigration and Customs deports record number

- Posted in America by Visa Bureauon 19 October 2011

Amid an increasingly heated immigration policy debate, the news was handed down on Tuesday that US Immigration and Customs conducted almost 400,000 deportations in the financial year to September, the largest number in the nation's history and 4000 more than in the previous year.

Around half of the deportations were cases of people not in possession of a valid America visa who had recorded felonies or criminal convictions, including homocide, sex offences and driving charges. The highest proportion of crimes by illegal immigrants were drug-related offences (44,653).

The surge in deportation numbers has been attributed to the success of the 'Secure Communities' program which requires law enforcers to check the US immigration status of convicted felons. The program has been introduced in 1600 police juridictions and is expected to continue to be rolled out across the country.

Stakeholders have responded strongly to the news of record deportations, with civil liberties groups criticising government policy as heavy-handed and the anti-illegal-immigration lobby arguing the Obama Administration's approach does not go far enough.

"These record-breaking deportation numbers come at a time when illegal immigration rates have plummeted, the undocumented population has decreased substantially and violent crime rates are at their lowest levels in 40 years," said American Civil Liberties Union spokesperson Joanne Lin.

The Obama Administration has hit back at critics saying the number of deportations shows that American borders are secure.

"Our policies have been simultaneously described as engaging in a mean-spirited effort to blindly deport record numbers of illegal immigrants from the country and alternatively as comprehensive amnesty that ignores our responsibility to enforce the immigration laws; two opposites can't simultaneously be true," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their ESTA visa application.