In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2010, the U.S. deported nearly 393,000 people, half of whom were considered criminals. Of those classified as criminals, 27,635 had been arrested for drunk driving. This is more than double the number deported in 2008 for drunk driving, which was the last full year of the Bush administration. An additional 13,028 people were deported after being arrested for less serious traffic violations.
Most of the criminals deported last year had committed a drug related crime, which encompasses the manufacture, distribution, possession or sale of drugs. Drunk driving was the third highest category for deportation. But what has some worried is the rise in deportations arising from traffic violations, mainly because traffic stops are conducted by state and local law enforcement. The new programs being put in place by certain states encourage local law enforcement to become involved in immigration enforcement.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano notes that most people in the United States are arrested for misdemeanor offenses, but she assures that the percentage of felons deported will change over time. The most serious criminal offenders are still in prison and won’t be reflected in the numbers until they are able to be removed.
Illegal immigrants caught at traffic stops are often pressured into signing agreements that they will leave the country or to acknowledge responsibility for the traffic offense. They then end up in the statistics as criminals. Immigration and Customs Enforcement categorizes each deported immigrant in its statistics based on the worst crime on that person’s record. They say the numbers reflect only those convicted of a crime.