The number of illegal aliens ejected from country this year is nearly 50 percent higher than at the same time last year - thanks in part to tougher immigration rules Congress passed in 1996.
Preliminary figures show that the Immigration and Naturalization Service deported 75,743 people during the nine-month period that ended June 30, 49.3 percent more than the 50,714 thrown out of the country during the same period in 1996.
About 40 percent - or 13,121 - of the 32,279 deported from April through June had criminal records.
The numbers don’t include the more than 57,000 aliens who left the country without formal deportation proceedings. Most chose to leave voluntarily after they were caught.
The INS also estimates that it turned back another 1.5 million people who tried to cross the U.S. border illegally last year.
About 60 percent of criminal aliens deported had committed offenses that were classified as aggravated felonies under immigration law. Drug convictions accounted for more than 40 percent.
INS General Counsel David Martin attributed the increase in deportations of criminal aliens to improved efforts to identify and remove aliens in jails and prisons.
He also said the 1996 immigration law helped drive up the number of noncriminal deportations by 64 percent.
Under the law, aliens arriving at U.S. airports and other ports of entry without proper documents are refused entry into the country “unless there is a credible asylum claim or a claim to permanent resident status,” the INS said.
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