Federal immigration officials have set another record for deportations, according to statistics released by the Department of Homeland Security last week.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they deported 409,849 immigrants during fiscal year 2012, an increase over the 396,906 deported during the previous year. In 2010, the government deported about 392,000.
ICE Director John Morton says the agency is concentrating on removing priority cases -- generally, those illegal immigrants with criminal records. Morton said that 96% of the removals were in the priority category, and about 55% of deportations overall involved immigrants with felony or misdemeanor convictions.
Morton said "the 2012 removals indicated that we continue to make progress in focusing resources on criminal and priority aliens, with more convicted criminals being removed from the country than ever before."
The Obama administration has said it wants to shift deportation priorities away from illegal immigrants without criminal records and target those with more serious offenses instead.