"We increased the removal of criminals by 70 percent."
President Barack Obama, Tuesday in a speech in El Paso
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The ruling: TRUE
In a speech on immigration reform, Obama said his administration has focused on deporting illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.
"We're focusing our limited resources and people on violent offenders and people convicted of crimes - not just families, not just folks who are just looking to scrape together an income," he said. "And as a result, we've increased the removal of criminals by 70 percent."
According to data provided by the Department of Homeland Security, the number of illegal immigrants "removed" rose about 6 percent between the end of September 2008 (four months before Obama took office) and the end of September 2010. But a much larger percentage of those deported were convicted criminals. In 2008, 31 percent were criminals; but by 2010, the percentage jumped to 50 percent.
The raw number of convicted criminals who were deported went from 114,415 in 2008 to 195,772 in 2010. That's 71 percent. So that squares with Obama's claim.
Data for the first half of the 2011 fiscal year suggests that trend is continuing, with about 52 percent of the deportations involving convicted criminals.
In an Oct. 6, 2010, news release, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the numbers reflect the administration's "prioritizing the identification and removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety."
"Our approach has yielded historic results, removing more convicted criminal aliens than ever before and issuing more financial sanctions on employers who knowingly and repeatedly violate immigration laws than during the entire previous administration," Napolitano said.
Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that favors reducing immigration into the United States, said it's true that the deportation rate, particularly deportation of convicted criminals, has been higher under Obama.
"My sense is that Obama deserves credit, for all the complaints about him, that he has done maybe a little better than (President George W.) Bush on deportations," Beck said. "I think the main context, though, is that the amount of deportations under Bush was rather small."
Obama is correct that there has been a 70 percent increase in deportation of criminals. We rate his statement True.
Edited for print. For more rulings, go to PolitiFact.com.