PHOENIX - The Obama administration is deporting more illegal immigrants than ever before. Statistics compiled at Syracuse University challenge criticism by Republicans, including Gov. Jan Brewer, that federal authorities are failing to deal with the problem.
Findings by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse show more illegal immigrants were removed from the United States during the first nine months of this fiscal year than during the same period in 2008, when Republican George W. Bush was president and controlled immigration enforcement.
The number of those ejected from the country between Oct. 1, 2009, and June 30 of this year is nearly twice as high as it was in the same period ending June 30, 2005.
The TRAC report also shows the Obama administration is devoting more resources to removing those who have committed serious crimes.
During the first nine months of the fiscal year, TRAC, using Immigration and Customs Enforcement data, figures 136,714 "criminal aliens" were deported. That same figure in 2008 was 85,334.
That was counterbalanced by a decrease in removals of non-criminal aliens. The figure for the first nine months of this fiscal year is 142,321, compared to 169,429 at the same time in 2008.
The report comes in the middle of an ongoing barrage of criticism at the president and homeland security chief Janet Napolitano by many Republicans. And integral to that has been Arizona's approval of a tough new law aimed giving police more power to detain immigrants - though much of that has been stayed by a federal judge - based on claims the state needs to act because the federal government is not.
Brewer has been at the forefront of those blasts.
Earlier this year, for example, the governor said Obama and his administration have "simply turned a blind eye to the issues that Arizona is being overrun by illegal immigration, terrorizing the citizens."
More recently, Brewer chided Obama for assigning just 1,200 National Guard soldiers to the entire Mexican border, with 524 of them coming to Arizona.
And just Tuesday, her gubernatorial campaign said the president "has failed to secure the border, and instead has opted to sue the state of Arizona for doing the job the feds won't do."
Brewer's criticism of the Obama administration has been egged on by others, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who said just days ago, "If our own president will not enforce our federal law, more power to Jan Brewer."
Gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said he hasn't reviewed the TRAC report. But he said Brewer stands by her criticism.
"Even the president himself has said that the federal government has failed to secure our borders," Senseman said.
"Both Republican and Demo-cratic elected officials in Arizona have described the situation as a crisis," he continued. "There is bipartisan consensus that the federal government has failed to secure our border."
But Senseman said that doesn't mean Brewer is letting Bush off the hook.
"The governor has never stated that the failure to secure the border is limited to this administration," he said, adding the problems are the result of "years of federal neglect."
He said that is borne out in part by the fact about 6,000 inmates in Arizona prisons are illegal immigrants, out of about 40,000 now incarcerated.
Arizona's two U.S. senators, both Republicans, also have joined in the criticism.
John McCain said it was the failure of the Obama administration to "secure our borders" that forced Arizona to enact SB 1070 in the first place. And Jon Kyl said Obama told him securing the border would take all the wind out of his plans for comprehensive immigration reform, which the White House disputed.
Neither McCain nor Kyl would comment about the TRAC report.
On StarNet: Read more about border- and immigration-related issues in Brady McCombs blog, Border Boletín, at go.azstarnet.com/borderboletin