There’s a Main Stream Media meme, much cited in defense of President Obama’s just-acknowledged Administrative Amnesty, that illegal alien deportations have skyrocketed since he took office. For example, the appalling Bill Ong Hing in the equally appalling Huffington Post:
“Whatever its justification, Obama`s DHS has been shattering Bush era deportation and detention records.”
[One Hand Clapping for Latest Obama Deportation Reforms, August 23, 2011. Link in original, to a story by the Houston Chronicle’s gullible Susan Carroll (email her)]
In recent years the U.S. has been removing nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants annually—about 3% of the 12 million or so illegals living in the U.S., if you believe official estimates. (Others suggest 20 million or higher). At that rate it will take 30 years to remove the illegal aliens already here. By then, of course, millions of new arrivals will have entered.
And 400,000 removals per year is hardly a record. In 1954, for example, Operation Wetback is reported to have sent about 1.3 million illegal farm workers back to Mexico, from a much smaller U.S. population. Buses and trains deposited many deep within Mexican territory. Some 700,000 are thought to have left voluntarily. [Handbook Of Texas Online]
“In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants…
“The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration`s 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush`s final year in office.”
Deportation of illegal immigrants increases under Obama administration, By Peter Slevin, Washington Post, July 26, 2010
The fallacy behind those assertions is clear from data on ICE’s own website:
Illegal alien removals, FY2007-FY2011
|FY2011 (1st 7 months)||222,312||- 0.8%(a)|
|a. From same period of the prior FY. Data source: ICE. PDF|
To put that in words:
- In FY2008 – George W. Bush’s last full fiscal year – deportations rose a whopping 26.8% from the prior year.
- In FY2009—the last eight months of which were on Obama’s watch, deportations slowed to a 5.6% growth rate.
- In FY2010, deportations fell still further—to a growth of only 0.8%.
- In the first seven months of FY2011 (October 2010 through April 2011), deportations are running at 0.8% below the same period of last year.
As things stand now, FY2011 is on course to be the first since FY2002 in which deportations will decline.
Deportations may pick up as they did at the end of FY 2010. But even then, they still didn’t reach the 400,000 that Morton trumpeted that summer.
If ICE deports anywhere near the “25 percent more than were deported in 2007”, it will be mainly because of what George II did in his last full year—not what Obama did in his first three.
There is a lot of seasonal noise in deportation activity. For some reason, deportations seem to spike in summer months and sink in the winter. For this reason it is useful to compare monthly deportation activity over the course of a year with that of the same month in the prior year.
One graphic is worth many thousands of words:
Since taking office in January 2009 the Obama administration seems to have exerted an immediate and profound change in deportation activity. At first it was merely a fall in the rate of deportation growth. More recently it has produced absolute declines in the number of deportations.
As of this writing, ICE has posted deportation numbers only through May 23, 2011. Pro-rating the first 23 days you get an estimated 28,990 deportations for the entire month, which is about 3% below the deportation total for May 2010.
Implication: the deportation decline may be deepening.
To be sure, not all types of deportations have declined. Criminal removals rose 92% (from a relatively low base) between FY2007 and FY2010, according to official ICE data. Non-criminal deportations rose a modest 4.3% over that period. So far this fiscal year, half of all deportees have been criminals. But in FY2007, criminals accounted for 35% of all deportations, so the difference is hardly as dramatic as the Administration claims..
But many question the integrity of ICE deportation statistics as well as the deportation process itself. Last year the ICE rank and file—more than 7,000 unionized employees—voted “No Confidence” in the agency’s Director and other politically appointed managers. [National Council 118—Immigration and Customs Enforcement Vote Of No Confidence ICE Director John Morton, June 25, 2010] Among their charges:
- “Senior ICE leadership dedicates more time to campaigning for immigration reforms aimed at large scale amnesty legislation, than advising the American public and Federal lawmakers on the severity of the illegal immigration problem, and the need for more manpower and resources… [ICE] is currently overwhelmed by the massive criminal alien problem in the United States resulting in large scale release of criminals back into local communities.”
- “Criminal aliens incarcerated in local jails seek out ICE officers and volunteer for deportation to avoid prosecution, conviction and serving prison sentences. Criminal aliens openly brag to ICE officers that they are taking advantage of the broken immigration system and will be back in the United States within days to commit crimes, while United States citizens arrested for the same crimes serve prison sentences. State and local enforcement, prosecutors, and jails are equally overwhelmed by the criminal alien problem and lack the resources to prosecute and house these prisoners before making contact with ICE. Thousands of others criminal aliens are released by ICE without being tried for their criminal charges. ICE senior leadership is aware that the system is broken, yet refuses to alert Congress to the severity of the situation and request additional resources to provide better enforcement and support of local agencies.”
In effect, the whistleblowers say their Obama-appointed managers, despite their rhetoric, are still understating the criminal alien problem to minimize the danger posed by illegal immigration.