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Immigrant Deportation Numbers Decrease

The Obama administration deported the fewest number of immigrants in fiscal year 2015 since the president took office.

This past fiscal year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 235,413 immigrants. That’s the lowest number during the Obama presidency and a 42 percent drop from 2012, the peak year for deportations.

In a Tuesday press release, the Department of Homeland Security cited a decline in the number of people attempting to cross the border illegally as one factor for the decrease.

“Historically, a large number of ICE’s removals have been based on [Custom and Border Protection’s] significant border apprehensions,” read the release. “However, with the exception of one year, apprehensions along the southwest border – a key measure of illegal border crossings – are at their lowest level in more than 40 years.”  

U.S. Border Patrol reported 337,117 apprehensions in fiscal year 2015, down 30 percent from the year before.

The vast majority of deported immigrants this past year — about 70 percent — were removed from the border or ports of entry, rather than from the interior of the country.

The Obama administration has said it is prioritizing the deportation of criminals, and 59 percent of those deported this past year had previous criminal convictions. Of those deported from the interior of the country, 91 percent had criminal convictions.

President Barack Obama has been criticized both for being too lenient on immigration, and for being too tough, earning him the nickname “deporter in chief” by some critics. 

Jude Joffe-Block Senior Field Correspondent, Fronteras Desk - Phoenix KJZZ Senior Field Correspondent Jude Joffe-Block got hooked on radio while working as an assitant to a radio reporter in Mexico, and has been happiest wearing headphones and pointing microphones ever since. Joffe-Block began serving KJZZ in October 2010 as a Fronteras: Changing America Senior Field Correspondent based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. She joined the Phoenix newsroom in July 2012. Before joining the Fronteras Desk, she contributed stories on immigration and criminal justice to KALW in San Francisco and multimedia content in both Spanish and English to The Associated Press in Mexico. She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Yale University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico.