The US is not only deporting more illegal immigrants than ever, it’s doing a better job of booting actual convicts, according to figures released today by Homeland Security. The US deported 396,906 people in fiscal 2011, a new record, USA Today reports, and 55% of those deported were convicted criminals—a nearly 10-year high. That group includes 1,119 people convicted of homicide and 5,848 who committed sexual crimes.
The increase is thanks in part to an Obama administration directive to center deportation efforts around convicts, which the director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement calls a "focus on sensible immigration." He explains, "In the face of limited resources, we have to prioritize, and that starts with criminal offenders." Conservative critics counter that the administration is granting a free pass to non-offending illegal immigrants, while immigration advocates complain that the percentage of non-convict deportees is still too high.