President Barack Obama says he backs U.S. immigration reform, announcing last month an initiative to ease deportation policies, but he has sent home over one million illegal immigrants in 2-1/2 years -- on pace to deport more in one term than George W. Bush did in two.
Obama's administration deported about 1.06 million as of Sept. 12, against 1.57 million in Bush's eight years as president.
This seeming contradiction between rhetoric and reality is a key element of debate over U.S. immigration policy, and stakes are high for 2012's presidential election as Obama faces criticism from both conservatives and liberals.
In 2008, 67 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama over Republican John McCain.
But Obama fell short on his promise to have a comprehensive reform bill in Congress in his first year. And despite his push of the DREAM Act in 2010, the bill failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Clarissa Martinez de Castro, director of Immigration and National Campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, said because Congress is unlikely to consider immigration reform any time soon, "it has to stay there front and center and in the face of folks that are allowing this issue to fester."
The administration announced its initiative to ease deportations on Aug. 18, a step some analysts say gave up on an uncooperative Congress and aimed to appease advocates of more liberal immigration laws.
Some 11.2 million illegal immigrants live and work in the United States today, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The initiative is expected to help an estimated two million young people who under the stalled DREAM Act could have achieved citizenship by pursuing higher education or military service.
Immigration authorities are funded to remove 400,000 people a year, according to the unnamed ICE official.
In fiscal year 2010, the last full year of data, ICE removed nearly 393,000 undocumented immigrants -- a record, and almost 24,000 more than in FY2008, Bush's last full fiscal year in office.
Convicted criminals numbered about 196,000 of those removed, an increase of 71 percent from Bush in FY2008.
Of the over 1 million removed so far under Obama, 46 percent have been convicted criminals and 54 percent non-criminals. Bush's removals were 41 percent criminal and 59 non-criminal, according to data provided by ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.
ReutersLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2011, 11:56