In 2013, deportations fell 10%. While this is positive news, it does not quite hide the anxiety and suffering of tens of thousands of immigrants who were separated from their loved ones this year.
We are talking about 41% of the 368,655 people who were removed and had no criminal records, and the more than 60,000 persons convicted of misdemeanors who are no longer in the U.S.
This does not mean that the decrease in the number of deportations for the year that is ending is not very welcomed. Any fall in the record number of deportations that has characterized President Obama’s administration is a good development, without a doubt. In this case, the drop, according to immigration officials, is because of an improvement in the emphasis placed on detaining, particularly undocumented immigrants, and the time it takes for them to go through jam-packed immigration courts. The suspended deportations of almost half a million Dreamers also helped decrease the numbers.
However, the good news does not help clear great worries in the immigrant community from having an ongoing threat of family separations. Today, this fear makes stopping deportations feel more important than achieving a path to citizenship in an eventual immigration reform.
It is very unlikely that deportations will stop. What can be expected is that the only ones deported are those immigrants who pose a danger to society. In that respect, the trend is better than previous years, but insufficient as long as people without criminal records or who have not committed serious crimes are still being expelled.
Clearly, comprehensive reform would set a different dynamic when it comes to deportees, but that is an issue for 2014. Meanwhile, we must continue demanding that families of hard working people who came to contribute to this country with their honest efforts are no longer separated.