A report released Wednesday by a group opposed to illegal immigration accused Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano of skewing the deportation data of undocumented migrants, labeling recently announced figures "statistically insignificant."
The Federation for American Immigration Reform said that while more criminal aliens had been deported this year, the overall number of deportations had fallen, "reflecting not only the unwillingness of the Obama Administration to uniformly enforce U.S. immigration laws against both criminal and non-criminal illegal aliens, but also the Administration’s constant misrepresentation of immigration data to make it appear as if it is actually enforcing the law."
Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the chief agency responsible for enforcing the nation's immigration laws, reported it had "removed more illegal aliens than in any other period in the history of our nation." In all, ICE said, the agency sent home "392,000 illegal aliens," half of which, more than 195,000, were "convicted of crimes including murder, sex offenses and drug violations."
"Since the beginning of this administration, we have fundamentally changed the federal government's approach to immigration enforcement," Napolitano said at a news conference Oct. 6.
But, FAIR says, "Napolitano failed to mention that while the deportation of criminal illegal aliens has risen, the change in the total number of overall deportations is statistically insignificant. In fact, the number of deportations of non-criminal illegal aliens has decreased..."
Napolitano, accompanied by ICE Director John Morton, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Fairfax County, Va., Sheriff Stan Barry, attributed the rise in deportations to the Secure Communities program - a partnership between ICE and state and local law enforcement agencies that uses biometric technology to identify aliens who have been booked into state and local jails. About 660 local law enforcement agencies are members of the program, according to ICE figures. Napolitano says she wants to "expand this program to every law enforcement jurisdiction in the country by 2013."
The immigration group called the Secure Communities program a "step in the right direction," but said it wasn't clear the program had a major impact on the rise in criminal deportations.
"Secretary Napolitano is giving herself and DHS a big pat on the back for stepping up enforcement without mentioning that the department is merely completing cases initiated under the previous administration, under policies that she and President Obama have aggressively dismantled since taking office," FAIR president Dan Stein said.
The sheriffs credited the program with helping catch career criminal migrants.
"It's clear that this program is working," said Baca, noting that several criminal aliens had gone back and forth between incarceration and release before his department began participating in Secure Communities.
"Secure Communities is an excellent program," added Barry.
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