Ms. Sandoval, a Honduran immigrant here illegally, was riding with the man her girls have always called their father. Immigration agents, seeing a dilapidated car, pulled them over. They released Ms. Sandoval but detained her partner, a Nicaraguan also here illegally, and he was soon deported.
Now Ms. Sandoval, 28, is grieving her loss and scrambling to support her children without her partner, Enrique Morales, and the income from his thriving flooring business. She sees no future for the girls, who are both American citizens, in her home country or his. So Ms. Sandoval is facing the possibility that she may never see Mr. Morales again.
“It is very difficult to explain to two little girls that Daddy will not be with us anymore,” Ms. Sandoval said.
Since taking office, President Obama has deported more than 1.9 million foreigners, immigration officials announced last week, a record for an American president. The officials said they focused on removing criminals, serious immigration offenders and recent border crossers, with 98 percent of deportees in 2013 in those groups, while sparing workers and their families. Mr. Obama is also pressing for an overhaul of immigration laws with a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
But immigrant leaders say the enforcement has a broad impact on their communities, with deportations still separating bread-winning parents from children and unauthorized immigrants from family members here legally, including American citizens.
Administration officials say the deportation numbers — more than 368,000 this fiscal year — are driven by a congressional requirement that more than 30,000 immigrants be detained daily. They acknowledge that the lines are becoming harder to draw between high-priority violators and those with strong family ties.
For immigrants, the steady deportations have compounded their frustration with Congress, where the House took no action this year after the Senate passed a bipartisan overhaul bill in June. Increasingly advocates are turning their pressure on the president, saying he should use his executive powers to halt removals.
A 24-year-old South Korean, Ju Hong, brought attention to those demands when he repeatedly interrupted Mr. Obama during a speech in San Francisco last month, calling on him to stop deportations of all unauthorized immigrants in the country. In recent days, anti-deportation protesters blocked entrances to immigration detention centers in southwestern Ohio, Northern Virginia and downtown Los Angeles, with more than two dozen people arrested.
In New Orleans, street sweeps by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents this year also led to a protest. On Nov. 14, nearly two dozen demonstrators, including 14 immigrants without legal status, tied up midday traffic at one of the city’s busiest intersections for nearly three hours until the local police arrested them.
“Our people feel they can’t go to the store to buy food or walk their children to school,” said Santos Alvarado, 51, a Honduran construction worker who joined the protest here even though he has legal papers. “We couldn’t be quiet any longer.”
Many immigrants here have been stunned by the arrests, in which some people seemed to be stopped based solely on their Latino appearance, because they had been living here uneventfully since they came in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to work on reconstruction.
One of those workers, Jimmy Barraza, was unloading a carful of groceries on Aug. 16 when agents pulled up with pistols drawn, handcuffing him as well as his teenage son, a United States citizen. A mobile fingerprint check of Mr. Barraza, who is also Honduran, revealed an old court order for his deportation.
Mr. Barraza, 28, won release from detention but is still fighting to remain. His wife is a longtime legal immigrant, and he has two other younger children who are American citizens.
“If they deport me,” he said, “who will keep my son in line? Who will support my family?”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 23, 2013
An earlier version of a headline with this article referred inaccurately to the rate of deportations by the Obama administration. While there has been a total of more than 1.9 million deportations under President Obama and there was a recent increase of removal operations in New Orleans, overall deportations decreased by 10 percent in fiscal 2013 from the previous year. There has not been a “surge.”