More than three years after John Ashcroft, then attorney general, cited the 9/11 attacks by foreign terrorists in announcing a broad crackdown on violators of immigration laws, the United States is deporting foreigners at an unprecedented pace. In the 12 months ending Sept. 30, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported a record 157,281 immigrants, up from 100,000 in 2000, reports USA Today. More than half of those deported last year had criminal records.
About two-thirds of those deported have been returned to Mexico. Most of the rest have been sent back to Central or South America or to the Dominican Republic. ICE now has four jets that in 2003 alone made 317 flights to return more than 18,500 immigrants to their native countries. ICE expects the number of deportations to increase again this year. In his 2006 budget, President Bush has requested an additional $170 million above the $1.4 billion that ICE’s Detention and Removal program will get in 2005. “We’re going to make the community safer by removing aliens who come into the country and commit crimes,” says Victor Cerda, acting director of Detention and Removal.