President Barack Obama’s administration deported a record 1.5 million illegal immigrants in his first term, according to a tally by NPR, despite his support for creating a path to citizenship for many undocumented people living and working in America

The increase comes even as the administration focuses immigration control resources on  criminals, threats to national security, repeat immigration law violators and recent border crossers.

More than half of the 409,849 individuals deported in fiscal 2012 (which ended Sept. 30) were criminals, including 1,215 convicted of homicide, 5,557 convicted of sexual offenses, 40,448 convicted for crimes involving drugs and 36,166 convicted for driving under the influence, according to an Immigration and Customers Enforcement press release.

Obama Administration Deports 1.5 Million Illegal Immigrants in 1st Term   A New Record

 

Obama Administration Deports 1.5 Million Illegal Immigrants in 1st Term   A New Record

Students protest in June 2012, demanding that President Obama issue an executive order to stop deportations of illegal immigrant students. (Photo Credit: AP)

“While the FY 2012 removals indicate that we continue to make progress in focusing resources on criminal and priority aliens, with more convicted criminals being removed from the country than ever before, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are doing everything we can to utilize our resources in a way that maximizes public safety,” ICE Director John Morton said in the release.

Still, immigration advocates and other critics, including members of Obama’s own party, say the president isn’t doing enough to protect unintended targets, NPR reported.

“This is nothing to be proud of,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said in a statement. “In the 409,849 deportations are hardened criminals for whom I have no sympathy, but we must also realize that among these … are parents and breadwinners … that are assets to American communities and have committed no crimes.”

Some 90,000 people in this category are deported every year, Gutierrez estimates.

Gutierrez and others say the best solution remains the passage of comprehensiveimmigration reform, which could be taken up by the new Congress early next year, according to NPR.