Deportations hit record highs
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - The U.S has a new record number of deportations. The Obama administration is surprising critics when it comes to cracking down on criminal immigrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents deported 393 thousand people in 2010.
While it's surprising critics, others are questioning the crimes leading to deportations. Driving Under the Influence led to 27 thousand deportations, but lesser traffic violations led to 13 thousand. That number is three times higher than it was three years ago.
Immigration attorney Richard Martinez says it's a sign bills like SB1070 may be having a large impact.
"I think our greatest fear has come true in that irrespective of the injunction, the order putting 1070 on hold," said Martinez, "was that law enforcement would implement 1070 or implement it to a greater degree than they had in the past."
State Senator Frank Antenori, an SB1070 supporter, says police practices haven't changed.
"Those guys need to go home after they do their jail time and I think it's the right thing to do," he said, "you are deporting someone that broke the law, they've been in jail serving a prison sentence or they were convicted of another crime. I don't get the racial profiling piece."
Antenori says he's pleasantly surprised by the numbers that show the system may be seeing improvement.
"I'm not a big fan of the President," he said, "but I'll give credit where credit's due. I mean he's doing the right thing and if you encounter somebody in this country illegally and they broke the law you deport them."
Martinez and others don't agree. They say agents should continue to focus on major criminals. Martinez argues deportation for traffic violations can break up families or cause an immigrant to lose their ability to immigrate legally.
"There's tragedy going on at a massive scale that's pretty much being ignored," he said.
9 On Your Side reporter brought those concerns to ICE, who responded with this statement:
"ICE prioritizes its resources on criminal aliens who pose threats to public safety. More than half of those removed last year - upwards of 195,000 - were convicted criminals, a 70 percent increase in the removal of criminal immigrants from the previous administration."
While deportation for traffic violations has increased, the most common cause for deportation hasn't changed. ICE agents deported more than 45 thousand people in 2010 for drug-related offenses.