Center for Immigration Services October 29, 2013 by Jessica Vaughan
A key talking point for proponents of amnesty for illegal aliens is that the Obama administration has made historic improvements to border security and immigration enforcement, leading to “record” numbers of deportations that surpass the performance of earlier administrations. In December 2012, John Morton, then-director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced that his agency had removed nearly 410,000 illegal aliens that year. Major news outlets, pro-amnesty lawmakers, and other Obama administration allies heralded this apparent milestone as evidence that the border and illegal immigration were now under control.
- The number of deportations resulting from interior enforcement by ICE declined by 19 percent from 2011 to 2012, and is on track to decline another 22 percent in 2013.
- In 2012, the year the Obama administration claimed to break enforcement records, more than one-half of removals attributed to ICE were the result of Border Patrol arrests that would never have been counted as a removal in prior years. In 2008, under the Bush administration, only one-third of removals were from Border Patrol arrests.
- Total deportations in 2011, the latest year for which complete numbers are available, numbered 715,495 – the lowest level since 1973. The highest number of deportations on record was in 2000, under the Clinton administration, when 1,864,343 aliens were deported.
- When claiming record levels of enforcement, the Obama administration appears to count only removals, which are just one form of deportation, and only a partial measure of enforcement. Beginning in 2011, a shift of some of the routine Border Patrol case load to ICE enabled the administration to count an artificially high number of removals.
- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the division of ICE that is responsible for work site enforcement, combating transnational gangs, overstay enforcement, anti-smuggling and trafficking activity, and busting document and identity theft rings, now contributes very little to immigration enforcement. In 2013 HSI has produced only four percent of ICE deportations, making just a few thousand arrests per year throughout the entire country.
- ICE is doing less enforcement with more resources. Despite reporting more encounters in 2013 than 2012, ICE agents pursued deportation of 20 percent fewer aliens this year than last.
- Enforcement activity declined in every ICE field office from 2011 to 2013, with the biggest declines in the Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Washington DC/Virginia, and Houston field offices.
- Criminal alien arrests declined by 11 percent from 2012 to 2013, despite the completion of the Secure Communities program, which generates more referrals of arrested aliens than ever before. ICE agents took a pass on hundreds of thousands of aliens who were arrested by local authorities in those years.
- ICE is carrying a case load of 1.8 million aliens who are either in removal proceedings or have already been ordered removed. Less than two percent are in detention, which is the only proven way to ensure departure.
- As of the end of July 2013 there were 872,000 aliens – nearly half of ICE’s total docket – who had been ordered removed but who had not left the country.