By Jean-Paul Salamanca ( | First Posted: Dec 26, 2012 01:39 PM EST

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have deported more immigrants in fiscal 2012 than in any other year. (Photo : Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

The official numbers are in, and according to them, federal officials have deported more immigrants in the past fiscal year than ever before.

According to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency last week, the agency had deported 409,849 undocumented immigrants in fiscal 2012, which is 12,943 higher than last year's record figure of 396,906 deported immigrants.

The number underscores a problem that critics of the Obama administration have had for years, in that President Obama has not done enough to fix the immigration system.

The subject has been pushed to the forefront of a national debate after Latinos voted overwhelmingly in favor of Obama in the November elections over GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who vowed to install tougher immigration laws that would make certain immigrants "self-deport."

Despite the high number of deportations, agency officials highlighted that at least 96 percent of those deported this fiscal year fell into their priority categories, and that 55 percent, or 225,390 of deportees, were convicted of felonies and misdemeanors.

By the numbers, that includes 1,215 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,557 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 40,448 aliens convicted for crimes involving drugs; and 36,166 aliens convicted for driving under the influence.

However, the department also announced that they had issued new national detainer policies. Under those guidelines, ICE officials may only detain an individual if they have reason to believe that the detainee is subject to removal from the country and fall under certain conditions.

Those conditions include if the individual has: a prior felony conviction, been convicted of three or more misdemeanors, if the misdemeanors involve violence, sexual assault, driving under the influence, unlawful possession of a firearm and distribution of or trafficking pf a controlled substance, among others.

"Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities," ICE Director John Morton said in a statement on the issue. "In order to further enhance our ability to focus enforcement efforts on serious offenders, we are changing who ICE will issue detainers against."

While the FY 2012 removals indicate that we continue to make progress in focusing resources on criminal and priority aliens, with more convicted criminals being removed from the country than ever before, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are doing everything we can to utilize our resources in a way that maximizes public safety."

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