Despite focusing his weekly address on immigration reform, President Obama is known outside the Beltway as the “Deporter-in-chief,” an advocacy group said on Saturday.
“At this point, his words sound like empty promises stacked against his record,” said Pablo Alvarado, the group’s executive director, in a statement.
By 2014, two million people will be deported under the Obama administration, the Huffington Post reported in January. That’s the cumulative amount of immigrants deported under Bush, and more than all deportations before 1997.
“The fact that regressive voices among Republicans have been the loudest and most shrill does not excuse the president's disastrous record on deportations,” Alvarado said. “The president alone oversees the removal of more than 1,100 people every day.”
As Congress gets closer to finalizing legislation to revamp the state of the U.S. immigration system, Obama spoke on Saturday about the importance of reforms and its efforts to “patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.”
“In the end, that’s what this is all about: Men and women who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story, just like so many of our ancestors did,” the president said in the address.
The White House says the “broken” immigration laws have put our economic and national security at risk and touted the administration’s record on thwarting illegal border crossings, helping the children of illegal immigrants and even the deportation figures under fire.
“We focused enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally – who endanger our communities – and today, we deport more criminals than ever before,” Obama said.
But Alvarado argued that the fear of law enforcement actually makes some communities less safe.
As evidence, he referenced a study by PolicyLink and the University of Illinois at Chicago that shows nearly half of all Latinos living in the United States are less likely to report crime due to a potential involvement of immigration enforcement.
“The president must cease policies and dishonest rhetoric that equate immigrants with criminals. He knows full well that it is our families and loved ones he is profiling, criminalizing, and deporting,” he said. “The immigration debate is not one between Democrats and Republicans. It is a debate of fear versus courage.”