The United States deported nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants in fiscal 2011 -- the highest number since the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was formed eight years ago.
About 396,906 foreign nationals were deported in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the agency said yesterday.
This compares with about 393,000 removed in fiscal 2010.
The figure highlights tensions in President Barack Obama's attempts to ease deportations, which have been steadily increasing, and his desire to formulate a more popular immigration policy ahead of the 2012 elections.
Illegal immigration is a hot political issue in the United States. More than 11 million illegal immigrants live and work in the United States, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
While Obama has failed so far to get Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, he ordered the Department of Homeland Security in August to prioritize deportations of people who faced criminal charges -- a move viewed by analysts as a way to appease advocates of more liberal immigration laws. -- Reuters