A surge in U.S. deportations of criminals was credited partly to the Secure Communities program, which allows local law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of every person, including American citizens, booked into a county or local jail, the New York Times reports. The U.S. deported a record 392,862 immigrants over the last year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday.
About half of those deported – 195,772 – were convicted criminals, also a record, and an increase of more than 81,000 deportations of criminals over the final year of George W. Bush's presidency. As midterm elections approach, Obama administration officials are facing intense pressure to show they are tough on illegal immigration. States have enacted laws to crack down, citing a failure of the federal government to do the job. A broad Arizona law drew a lawsuit from the federal government and an outcry from Latinos, who said it could lead to harassment and racial profiling. A federal judge stayed central provisions of the law. In some races for Congress, a candidate's position on the Arizona law has become a litmus test for many voters, especially among Republicans.