The U.S. deported nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants last year, and an increasing number of them were convicted criminals, according to figures set for release Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security.

Deportations have been on the rise for the past decade, and the 396,906 illegal immigrants deported in fiscal year 2011 is the highest number yet, according to the figures.

Under the Obama administration, Homeland Security issued new priorities to focus deportations on convicted criminals, people who pose threats to national security and repeated border-crossers. Last year, 55% of those deported were convicted criminals, the highest percentage in nearly a decade.

“In the face of limited resources, we have to prioritize, and that starts with criminal offenders,” Morton said. “We are making sure that people who game the system face the consequences.”

Critics say the numbers illustrate that the administration is intent on finding ways for illegal immigrants to stay in the country