The Obama administration in 2013 deported a record-breaking 438,421 people, including about 315,000 Mexican nationals, according to government statistics released Wednesday.
The total figure is an increase of about 20,000 from 2012 and includes about 198,400 immigrants with criminal records. After Mexico, Guatemala received the most repatriated citizens, about 46,870, followed by Honduras and El Salvador with about 36,500 and 20,860, respectively.
The statistics have prompted immigrant rights groups and reform advocates to again skewer the president for not using his executive authority to expand relief to more of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.
“As President Obama prepares his remarks for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual gala [Thursday], and tries to mend his relationship with the immigrant and Latino communities, we hope he remembers the 438,421 people he’s deported this year alone, further adding to his legacy of Deporter-in-Chief,” Cristina Jiménez, the managing director of United We Dream, which advocates for immigrants' rights and lobbies for passage of the DREAM Act, said in a statement. The president announced last month that he was delaying taking any action on immigration until after the November elections.
However, The New York Times noted that the new figures reflect a move toward the expedited removal of recent illegal crossers and away from interior enforcement. Recent deportees, however, are often caught near the border after trying to re-enter and reunite with family members. Immigration reform advocates have criticized the administration for deporting people who have lived in the country for years and have established roots here.
The statistics are not likely to draw praise from Republican lawmakers. Despite the administration’s record-breaking deportations over the past several years, conservative lawmakers have criticized the president for what they consider his lax enforcement policies, which they say lure illegal crossers.
The statistics also show that Texas’ Rio Grande Valley continues to be the busiest sector for illegal activity. In 2013, agents there apprehended 154,450 people on the border. The Tucson, Ariz., and Laredo sectors follow with 121,000 and 50,750, respectively.