A significant number of Caribbean nationals have been deported after committing minor infractions, including traffic violations, according to an analysis of internal United States (US) government records since President Barack Obama assumed office.
The figures showed that two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve Caribbean and other immigrants.
The study conducted by the New York Times found that 20 per cent, or about 394,000 of the cases, involved immigrants convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offences.
The paper said an examination of the Obama administration's record shows how the disconnect evolved between the president's stated goal of blunting what he called the harsh edge of immigration enforcement and the reality that has played out.
comprehensive immigration reform
Obama came to office promising comprehensive immigration reform, but lacking sufficient support, the administration took steps it portrayed as narrowing the focus of enforcement efforts on serious criminals.
Yet, the records show that the enforcement net actually grew, said the newspaper, adding that its analysis is based on government data covering more than 3.2 million deportations over 10 years, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to the records, the largest increases were in deportations involving illegal immigrants, whose most serious offence was listed as a traffic violation, including driving under the influence.
"For years, the Obama administration's spin has been that they are simply deporting so-called "criminal aliens," but the numbers speak for themselves," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
"In truth, this administration, more than any other, has devastated immigrant communities across the country, tearing families away from loved ones simply because they drove without a license or re-entered the country desperately trying to be reunited with their family members," she added.
But Obama administration officials say the deportations are a result of a decade in which the US Congress has passed tougher immigration laws, increased funding for enforcement, and stymied efforts to lay out a path to legal residency for the bulk of the nation's 11.5 million illegal immigrants.