The number of illegal immigrants deported from the United States in 2013 is down about 10 percent from the previous year, according to figures provided to 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.


  369,000 illegal aliens got the boot out of the country in the year now coming to a close.


  John Sandweg, who heads Immigration and Customs Enforcement, tells 1200 WOAI news the reason for the decline in deportations is the fact that officers were focusing on deporting illegals with criminal records.


  "Those cases take more time," he said.  "They stay in our detention centers for a longer period of time while the cases are litigated in immigration courts."


  Sandweg says two thirds of all deportations occurred in counties on or adjacent to the Mexican border.


  Another reason why the number of total deportations was down, was that the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico, the traditional source of unauthorized migrants, was down sharply, and the new class of illegals, from more distant places like Central America, have more complicated cases.


  "Those cases take a longer period of time to remove than would an individual from Mexico," he said.


  2013 was also the first full year in which young people took advantage of an amnesty granted by President Obama in June of 2012, which freed them from the fear of deportation as long as they applied for, and received, a two year pass allowing them to live legally in the U.S.  That amnesty is expected to be continued in 2014.


  "Nearly 60% of all ICE removals included individuals who were convicted of a criminal offense," Sandweg said.