WASHINGTON - US deportations of undocumented immigrants should decline significantly as a result of decrees issued by President Barack Obama last November, a new study released Thursday concludes.
The new enforcement priorities set forth in the decrees "could provide a degree of protection from deportation" for about 9.6 million undocumented immigrants, or 87 percent of the estimated 11 million living in the shadows, the Migration Policy Institute said.
Under previous enforcement guidelines dating from 2010, only about 73 percent of undocumented immigrants, or about eight million people, were safe from deportation, the report said.
It is a "significant narrowing of who falls into the priorities," said Mark Rosenblum, deputy director of the institute's program on US immigration policy.
The shrinking universe of deportable immigrants is a result of Obama's decision to focus enforcement on border security and dangerous criminals, according to the study.
Obama's best known immigration measures called for the legalization of certain categories of immigrants—parents of US citizens or adolescents brought to the country illegally by their parents, known as "dreamers."
Those measures, which would have benefitted some four million undocumented immigrants, were frozen by a court ruling.
But the institute said that the new guidelines for deportations are equally significant, and could affect a larger number of people.
Under those directives, US immigration authorities are instructed to focus on the deportation of people who pose a threat to national security, people convicted of serious crimes, gang members or undocumented immigrants caught near the border.
The institute estimates that that encompasses about 1.4 million people.
It estimated that US immigration authorities will deport 25,000 fewer people this year if the new enforcement priorities are fully implemented this year. —Agence France-Presse