How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Obama administration's new deportation policy being applied unevenly

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A man is prepared for a deportation flight bound for San Salvador in Mesa, Arizona, December 2010

A series of recent posts on Multi-American highlighted how a new deportation policy announced in August by the Obama administration, which promised to potentially spare thousands from deportation, was being applied unevenly.

Homeland Security officials announced that they would review the deportation cases of some 300,000 immigrants deemed a low priority for removal, among them young people who arrived here as minors and had no criminal record. But people who meet the criteria for leniency have continued moving through the deportation pipeline. One prominent recent example was Matias Ramos, a UCLA graduate and student activist who in September suddenly found himself wearing an electronic shackle and informed that he was to be deported to Argentina, where he was born.

Ramos was granted a last-minute temporary reprieve, as have other potential young deportees who have been the focus of social media campaigns by student activists and advocacy groups. But while some like these have been spared, others who meet the criteria and have similar backgrounds and similarly clean records continue to be deported.

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Top five immigration stories of 2010, #4: Record deportations

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A man waits to be processed at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Arizona.

It was the Obama administration's strategic trade-off on immigration: A stepped-up approach to enforcement which, the President hoped, would help win over Republican lawmakers for bipartisan support of a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration system.

In the end, with insufficient support for anything broader, the only thing to stick this year has been the enforcement. The Obama administration has deported nearly 800,000 immigrants in the past two years, more than during any other two-year period in the nation's history.

The exact numbers for this year have been disputed: The record figure released last fall of more than more than 392,000 deportations in fiscal year 2010, which topped the 2009 record, turned out to include more than 19,000 immigrants removed the previous fiscal year, as well as a small number of repatriations that would normally have been counted by the U.S. Border Patrol.

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