New deportation cases brought by the Obama administration in the nation’s immigration courts have been declining steadily since 2009, and judges have increasingly ruled against deportations, leading to a 43 percent drop in deportations through the courts in the last five years, according to Justice Department statistics released Wednesday.
The figures show the administration opened 26 percent fewer deportation cases in the courts last year than in 2009. In 2013, immigration judges ordered deportations in 105,064 cases nationwide.
The statistics present a different picture of President Obama’s policies than the one painted by many immigrant advocates, who have assailed the president as the “deporter in chief” and accused him of rushing to reach a record 2 million deportations.
While Obama has deported more foreigners than any other president, the pace of deportations has declined.
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The steepest drop in deportations filed in the courts came after 2011, when the administration began to use more aggressively a policy of prosecutorial discretion that officials said would lead to fewer deportations of immigrants in the country illegally who had no criminal record.
In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security opened 187,678 deportation cases, nearly 50,000 fewer than in 2011.
At the same time, the share of cases in which judges decided against deportation has consistently increased, to about one-third last year from about one-fifth in 2009.