Later in the address, he made a different argument, one that bolstered his idea that the government should prioritize deporting criminals over law-abiding immigrants. "Over the past six years," Obama said, "deportations of criminals are up 80 percent."
That appears to be accurate. Since Obama took office, there's been a relatively modest increase in the number of people deported -- "removed," in the parlance of the Department of Homeland Security. DHS publishes statistics on an annual basis tracking numbers related to its work. And while apprehensions flattened out after a long-term drop, deportations have moved upward.
Not all of those deportations involve people with criminal records. To Obama's point, the number of removals of criminals has increased. Numbers for 2014 aren't yet available, but the increase between 2009 and 2013 was 54.6 percent. Between 2008 and 2013, such removals more than doubled.
There's an argument that's been made that the administration is inflating deportation numbers by including some returns -- people who are allowed to return to their own countries without an order of removal. It's not clear that this is the case, though. Returns have declined steadily over time, consistently both before and after Obama took office.