US deported 396,000 in 2011 fiscal year

Washington, Oct 19 - The US government deported a record 396,000 people in the 2011 fiscal year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday.

Almost 55 percent of the foreigners deported, 216,698 people, were individuals with criminal records, ICE said in a communique.

"These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before," ICE Director John Morton said.

ICE data for the fiscal year ending Sep 30 signifies that President Barack Obama's administration deported in 2011 some 27,000 more people more than were expelled in the final year under Republican predecessor George W. Bush.

Of the 216,698 people deported because they were convicted of crimes, 44,600 were sentenced for drug-related crimes, 35,927 for drunk driving, 5,848 for sexual offenses and 1,119 for homicide.

Tuesday's announcement has sparked criticism from groups that defend immigrants' rights.

"They're locking up innocent people in Obama's jails, thousands and thousands of people who have committed no crimes, immigrants who have committed traffic violations or who called the police to report a crime," Roberto Lobato, an organiser of protests underway in a dozen cities, told EFE from San Francisco. (IANS/EFE)