One month after the Obama administration said it would focus its deportation efforts on illegal aliens with criminal records, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced today that 2,900 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions had been taken into custody in a seven-day sweep. More than 1,600 of those arrested had felony convictions.
Since Obama took office less than three years ago, more than 1 million illegal aliens have been deported. President George W. Bush, by comparison, deported a total of 1.57 million illegal aliens in eight years in office.
Obama's accelerated deportations have not impressed many Republicans. In a Sept. 26 letter to the president, 19 Republican senators complained that the administration's emphasis on criminal aliens has entailed turning "a blind eye to those who have broken our immigration laws" -- meaning all the noncriminal illegal aliens residing in the U.S.
The politics of this can be confounding. Obama wants comprehensive immigration reform and needs strong support from Hispanic voters to prevail in 2012, but has been deporting (mostly Hispanic) illegal aliens at a torrid pace. Republicans complain about lax enforcement and a leaky border when, in fact, enforcement is more strenuous and the border more secure than either were under President Bush.
Meantime, the current leader in the Republican race for president, Texas Governor Rick Perry, signed a law enabling illegal immigrants to attend Texas public universities at in-state tuition rates -- a policy vigorously opposed by most of his party.
Many Americans seem to believe that U.S. immigration policy is a muddle. They might have a point.