If anyone out there still believes Obama to be the “deporter-in-chief,” now would be a good time to stop.
The moniker is an oft-cited, erroneous claim repeated ad nauseam by amnesty activists or liberal policymakers looking to justify the president’s lackadaisical immigration enforcement policies. But unfortunately for Americans who think the law is actually worth the paper it’s printed on, this claim doesn’t hold up against the data. This inaccurate assertion is based on the number of “removals and returns” cited each year by the administration, but fails to distinguish how many of those “returns” occurred at the border (i.e., not a true “deportation”) versus how many persons are actually arrested and removed from inside the United States – a significantly smaller number, and dropping.
And it doesn’t take much digging to find out. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently released its Fiscal Year 2016 report which stated that as a whole, the Department of Homeland Security – which houses both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – removed or returned a total of 450,954 illegal aliens last year alone, each counted as a “deportation” by the term’s weakest definition.
However, a closer look at the data reveals that the vast majority of these “deportations” claimed by the Obama administration took place at or near the border – meaning they weren’t actual “deportations” at all. These were folks, primarily single adults, who got caught crossing the border from Mexico and were either turned around or, in the case of non-Mexicans, processed and sent back to their home country.
In fact, of the roughly 451,000 aliens who were removed from the country last year, only 65,332 of them – about 14 percent – were apprehended in the interior of the United States, according to DHS’s own report. The vast majority of these, by the administration’s own admission, were criminal aliens who’d been convicted of a violent felony or were a threat to national security.
Only five percent of all removals (less than 23,000) were Priority 2 cases, which includes people who unlawfully crossed into the U.S. since 2014. An even smaller one percent (less than 5,000) were aliens who’d been given a final order of removal in the last 2-3 years.
Overall, 94 percent of removals and returns were classified within a Priority 1 category, five percent were classified within a Priority 2 category (i.e., serious and repeat misdemeanants, individuals who unlawfully entered the United States on or after January 1, 2014, and significant abusers of the visa system or visa waiver program), and one percent were classified within a Priority 3 category (individuals issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014).
But not only are the administration’s overall “deportation” numbers highly misleading, they also mask the fact that interior arrests are dropping. According to ICE data analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies last summer, there are about 925,000 illegal aliens who’ve received a final order of removal from an immigration judge still living in the United States, including about 179,000 convicted criminals. But despite these alarming numbers, the administration’s recent report states that ICE made nearly 11,000 fewer interior arrests in FY2016 than the year before, down from 125,211 in FY2015 to 114,434 last year.
Even assuming that every alien arrested by ICE in 2016 was under a final order of removal, this would mean ICE only arrested 12 percent of the total number of legally removable aliens, and only deported about seven percent.
Additionally, based on conservative immigration estimates, these 65,000 aliens only account for about .6 percent of the estimated 11 million unlawfully present aliens living in the United States.