WASHINGTON -- As lawmakers debate the Obama administration's commitment to immigration enforcement, a report released last week shows that 2 million people will be deported by 2014 -- more than the total number of deportations before 1997 -- if they continue at the current rate.
Tanya Golash-Boza, an associate professor of sociology at University of California-Merced, found that interior immigration enforcement has expanded rapidly as border-crossings have slowed down, leading to more families being separated by deportation.
Her analysis found that 2.1 million people were deported between 1892 and 1997. From there, the rate of deportations swelled, hitting a record in the 2012 fiscal year with more than 400,000 removals. Apprehensions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement went from 10 percent of those in the Department of Homeland Security overall in 2002 to nearly 50 percent by 2011, the report says. And she found that nearly a quarter of the total deportations between July 2010 and the end of September 2012 involved parents of children who are United States citizens.
The rising rate predates President Barack Obama, who also works under a number of strict immigration laws. Still, he has presided over a significant portion of total deportations.
"On the one hand Obama gets to say,'I've deported all of these criminals,'" said Golash-Boza, who is writing a book about deportations. "On the other hand, not only are the people minor criminals, but they're also much more likely to be people that are living, working, have children in the United States than even just a few years ago."
The administration has defended its deportation policies as both necessary under current law and as more humane. Policies now place a higher priority on deporting criminals and repeat border-crossers, an argument White House domestic policy chief Cecilia Muņoz made on Thursday.
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