By: Eduardo Pacheco, Researcher
On September 30th the fiscal year ended with the Obama Administration breaking their previous record set last year of deportations of undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. Officials with ICE claim this increase in deportations is the direct result of “smart” immigration enforcement policy through the Federal Government’s Secure Communities Program that has led to the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants suspected of having criminal backgrounds. According to the reports disclosed by ICE on October 18th, 55% of the 396,906 deported from the US had a criminal background, in which under the administration’s new policy placed them under the High Priority Category for apprehension and deportation. It is important however to realize that 45%, a very large percentage, of those deported had no criminal background putting some doubt in the exclusivity of only targeting criminal undocumented immigrants.
Many pro-immigrant rights organizations and organizations that advocate in the reduction of immigrant flows into the US disagree with the Obama Administration’s reports and policy.
Many of the organizations that seek to drastically reduce the number of undocumented immigrants claim that the change in deportation priority is a backdoor amnesty, and these recent record breaking deportation numbers is a way for the Obama Administration to shift attention away from this “backdoor amnesty”.
In contrast, pro-immigrant rights organizations argue that under the Obama Administration more families are being torn apart than ever before by the flawed Secures Communities Program, in which there is record that in the past many individuals have been wrongfully targeted by the program.
While Immigration continues to be used as a political football between political candidates and parties in the US, what is true is that lack of action to address this issue on behalf of Congress and the Obama Administration is having grave consequences on Latino Communities across the United States, Mexico, and Latin America. The disproportionate deportation of Latinos has led to friction between the Latino Community and President Obama. According to DHS 77% of Undocumented Immigrants residing in the US are of Latino descent, however according to the newly published numbers by ICE 93% of the 396,906 deported last fiscal year are Latinos mainly from Mexico.
There is a great need to reexamine not only these immigration enforcement policies, but also the rhetoric revolving around this issue and its negative consequences on the largest minority community in the US, for the sake of the US and of the countries that are having to deal with large numbers of repatriates.