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Deportations of undocumented immigrants have decreased for the first time since 2006, a notable victory for the immigrant community that continues to live in fear thanks to a broken immigration system and congressional inaction.
Thousands of petition signatures, direct actions, and rallies have helped pave the way to secure programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and have certainly aided in highlighting the negative impact deportations have had across immigrant communities.
The drop in deportation rates was reported by The Associated Press, which revealed that overall deportations have declined by 42% since 2012.
The AP expanded on the implications on decreased deportation figures, stating that either the Obama administration was unable to identify undocumented “criminal immigrants” inside the United States, or “that fewer immigrants living in the U.S. illegally had criminal records serious enough to justify deporting them.”
Furthermore, another point to consider in the deportation drop is a 2014 Department of Homeland Security memorandum. Titled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants” the memorandum was issued by Secretary Johnson and indicated that “enforcement and removal policies should continue to prioritize threats to national security, public safety, and border security.”
And while Secretary Johnson told Congress back in April that the Department of Homeland Security would focus their current resources on “criminals and recent illegal arrivals at the border,” we at America’s Voice have witnessed the deportation of parents whose cases warranted a second look.
As our communities continues to witness the defeat of legislation that would reform our broken immigration system, or the delay of executive actions that could provide relief to the parents of millions of U.S. Citizen children, both due to obstructions by the Republican Party, we must remind ourselves this drop in deportation rates is a significant victory.
However, the work does not end here – as described by our Director, Frank Sharry:
“We’ve seen some encouraging steps forward, but more work needs to be done to ensure that a long overdue shift in enforcement priorities and practices is fully realized. The bottom line is that we should not be deporting people for political reasons, when before long they will be able to get on a path to legal status and citizenship in the country they now call home.”