Immigration and Customs Enforcement just finished a banner year, the agency announced today:
Overall, in FY 2011 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 396,906 individuals - the largest number in the agency's history.Of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors - an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals since FY 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence. ICE achieved similar results with regard to other categories prioritized for removal.
You can read the government's priorities for deportation (pdf), along with the directive not to spend time and energy deporting people whose deportation is "not in the public interest." Republicans call the new emphasis on kicking out criminals a backdoor path to citizenship.
Having seen Jose Antonio Vargas (above) on our show, I'd have to say the new immigration-reform movement is more like knocking on the front door and ringing the bell and hollering out "Hello-hello-anybody-home?"