"These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before," Morton continued. "Though we still have work to do, this progress is a testament to the hard work and dedication of thousands of ICE agents, officers and attorneys around the country."
The announcement comes a few months after the Department of Homeland Security, ICE's mother agency, said it was halting some deportation cases as a matter of "prosecutorial discretion" and will review up to 300,000 cases. One report found that DHS deported illegal immigrants after minor offenses like traffic violations and loitering.
ICE's record setting numbers were also announced as the Justice Department fights Alabama and Arizona's anti-illegal immigration laws in court. An appeals court partially blocked enforcement of Alabama's law, which U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said raised concerns about "vigilante enforcement of the law by private citizens."