(A Border Patrol agent in the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo/Getty Images )

Fewer deportations in 2013, according to latest ICE figures

The Obama administration removed 368,644 immigrants from the country last year, according to figures released Thursday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

This is the fewest number of immigrants deported by ICE since the end of President George W. Bush’s administration.

Of the 368,644 deportations, ICE Acting Director John Sandweg says 235,093 of these immigrants were arrested at or near the U.S. border with Mexico. The Border Patrol made more than 409,000 arrests at the border during the 2013 budget year that ended in September.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration, ICE has removed a record number of immigrants, more than 1.9 million.

Immigration reform advocates have long pushed the administration to stop deportations, and recently House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as other Democratic legislators reiterated the need to focus on deporting those who have committed serious crimes and not families who are just missing documentation.

Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) – a group which has been vigorously protesting deportations around the country – said “people on all sides will look at these numbers with a great deal of skepticism. It’s easy for the Administration to say that those deported fit their priorities when this White House has practically made sneezing a criminal act for immigrants. These numbers may represent political calculus for the beltway but for immigrant families, they represent our parents, siblings, and loved ones.”

According to a new survey from the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, U.S. Latinos as well as Asian Americans think it is more important to be able to live and work in the U.S. without the threat of deportation than it is to have a pathway to citizenship. For immigrant Hispanics, a halt to deportations over citizenship is even higher – 61 percent to 27 percent.  Among U.S.-born Hispanics, it’s 48 to 44 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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