A man stands among signs during a rally in support of President Barack Obama's plan to protect more than 4 million people living illegally in the U.S. from deportation on Feb. 17, 2015, in San Diego.
Photo by Gregory Bull/AP

Immigrant deportations decline dramatically

The number of immigrant deportations under the Obama administration has dipped to the lowest level the country has seen in nearly a decade.

A total of 235,413 undocumented immigrants were deported in the last fiscal year, between October 2014 and September 2015. The figures mark the fewest deportations in the U.S. since 2006, a resounding shift for President Obama, who early in his presidency was reviled by immigration advocates as the nation’s “deporter-in-chief.”

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A large bulk of total deportations, 165,935, were out of arrests made at the U.S. border. Another 69,478 removals were from the interior of the U.S., marking a clear shift in strategies as immigration officials aggressively pursued convicted criminals as a priority for deportation. Nearly 98% of all deportations fell within the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement strategies, the agency announced Tuesday when releasing it’s year-end immigration statistics

“Last year’s removal and return statistics are characterized primarily by three things: first, last year’s removal numbers reflect this Department’s increased focus on prioritizing convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security and national security,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. 

Johnson also noted a dramatic decline in the number of immigrants caught trying to cross the border through illicit means. There were 337,117 apprehensions along the southwest border in the last fiscal year, the lowest the country has seen since 1972, Johnson said. 

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In fact, net migration from Mexico has actually gone down. According to the Pew Research Center, the gold standard for analysis on immigrant populations in the U.S., there are people leaving for Mexico than those entering the U.S. The trend started shortly after the economic crash and has continued as more and more Mexican immigrants have returned to their home country to reunite with family.