GRAND JUNCTION — Criminal activity has fallen as a reason cited for deportations thus far this year in spite of federal immigration authorities' vows to focus more enforcement on the criminal element among undocumented immigrants.
The latest analysis of immigration court data from January through March of this year shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought to deport 5,450 undocumented immigrants on criminal grounds compared to 10,732 two years ago during the same period and 9,085 last year.
The analysis was done by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research organization affiliated with Syracuse University. TRAC emphasized that the numbers for this year could increase once final reports are in but that the number is not expected to reach the levels of previous years.
"This suggests that the announced plan to increase the deportation of serious criminals through Immigration Court proceedings has not been successful," the study concluded.
When the drop is looked at in terms of percentages, the number of deportations based on criminal activity falls from a high of 17 percent of cases for some quarters in the past three years to a current low of 14 percent.
TRAC's latest case-by-case analysis of court proceedings also found that five countries - Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and China - accounted for four out of five new cases filed in Immigration Court. In the past year, Mexico had the highest proportion of those ICE sought to deport on criminal grounds — 15.4 percent.