Immigrant deportations under the Obama administration fell 14 percent in fiscal year 2014 compared to the prior year, according to data from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that was obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The Times said officials deported nearly 316,000 people in 2014, which is the lowest number under Obama so far.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency overseen by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, deported 14 percent fewer immigrants in fiscal year 2014 compared with 2013.
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Democrats have argued throughout the immigration debate in Washington that President Barack Obama has not gone soft on immigration, and has continued to deport people. But Republicans have said deportations have fallen, and argue the administration has inflated its deportation data by including people turned away at the border.
Statistics obtained by the Times seem to bear out the GOP argument. The paper said about two-thirds of the 316,000 people deported were returned home after being detained at the border.
It also said border removals fell 9 percent compared to 2013.
Deportations of people from within the United States fell to roughly 102,000, which is a 23 percent drop from 2013.
The report came out in the same week that House Republicans were struggling to come up with a plan to fight Obama's plan to protect up to 5 million people from deportation, and to let them work in the United States if they meet certain criteria. The GOP has said for the last few years that Obama's decisions to ease up on immigration laws has created a new wave of illegal immigrants, including tens of thousands of children who tried to cross from Mexico over the last 12 months.
In 2012, Obama set up a new policy that removed the threat of deportation for thousands of younger illegal immigrants, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Last month, Obama expanded on that policy in a way that could let millions more stay and work in the United States.
The Times report said the reduction in deportations was "driven by the Obama administration's struggle to handle the surge of Central American migrants and its continuing shift in deciding whom to deport."
Many Republicans are pushing for language in a 2015 spending bill that defunds Obama's latest action, but so far, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has not committed to taking this step.