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As Deportations Drop Dramatically This Year Under Obama, Black People Are Affected, Too

Though he has been derisively called the “deporter-in-chief” because of the increase in deportations during his administration, President Barack Obama is on pace this year to deport the fewest number of immigrants since at least 2007, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

While this has traditionally been painted as solely an Hispanic issue, it also affects substantial numbers of Black people. Though Mexico is by far the nation to which the most people get deported (241,493 of the 369,000 deportations in 2013), there are also countries with sizable Black populations among the top 10 countries for deportations, meaning there are thousands of Black people caught up in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement system.

In addition to Jamaica, there’s the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia in the top 10.

While the Blacks in these countries may speak Spanish (or, in the case of Brazil, Portuguese), they would still be considered Black in the U.S.— and have a hard time catching a cab in major cities like New York and Chicago.

After deporting more than 2.1 million people since he was first elected in 2008, the highest by far for any U.S. president, Obama was derided by activists and called the “deporter-in-chief.” Judging by the drop-off this year, the name-calling apparently had an effect — even as the president once again comes under attack from immigration activists for delaying executive action on immigration reform until after the midterm elections.

The Obama administration sent home 258,608 immigrants between the start of the budget year last October and July 28 of 2014, according to an analysis of Homeland Security Department figures by The Associated Press. In the same period a year earlier, the U.S. deported 320,167 people — a dramatic decrease of nearly 20 percent. And it was even more dramatic compared to the year before, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 344,624 people — 25 percent more than this year.

As Hispanic activists and lawmakers complain about the president’s decision to delay action, Obama sent his chief of staff Denis McDonough to Capitol Hill on Thursday to reassure unhappy Latino lawmakers that he still plans to act by the end of the year. McDonough reportedly let them vent, then pledged action.

Why have the numbers dropped so much? There are various theories, but among the most likely is the decision by the administration in the summer of 2011 to focus its deportation efforts on criminal immigrants or those who posed a threat to national security or public safety. In addition, many undocumented immigrants are stuck in a federal immigration court system that as a backlog in excess of 400,000 cases.

According to published reports, it now takes a judge several years to issue a final order to leave the U.S.

In addition, since more people are coming from faraway lands such as Central and South America, the U.S. has to fly them home — instead of just walking them across the border into Mexico — which takes longer to initiate.

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