WASHINGTON - The Obama administration set a record in the last fiscal year for the number of criminal immigrants forced to leave the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show significant increases in the deportation of people after they were arrested for breaking traffic or immigration laws or driving drunk.
Of the 393,000 deportations in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, half were considered criminals. Some 27,000 had been arrested for drunk driving. That is a 50 percent increase from the final year of the Bush administration.
President Barack Obama has said his administration is enforcing immigration laws more wisely than his predecessor by focusing on arresting the "worst of the worst."
He promised in his 2008 presidential campaign to focus immigration enforcement on dangerous criminals.
In May, Obama said in a speech in El Paso, Texas, that his administration was focused on violent offenders and not families or "folks who are looking to scrape together an income."
Most of the immigrants deported last year had committed drug-related crimes. They totaled 45,003, compared with 36,053 in 2008. Drug-related crime — described as the manufacture, distribution, possession or sale of drugs — has been the No. 1 crime among immigration for years. Drunken driving was third in the number of offenses last year.