Fewer than 0.2 percent of the 11.7 million illegal aliens in the United States were deported in 2012 for violating immigration laws, according to data released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“It is a drop in the bucket,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Caller. “Relative to the [agency] resources and tools they have been given to do this job, it is a record low,” said Vaughan.
Government officials say they deported a total of 368,644 people. But almost two-thirds of those people, or 235,093, were caught at the border and promptly returned to their home countries.
Only 133,551 resident illegals were picked up in the interior of the country and deported, the ICE report admitted.
But 82 percent of those residents were deported for other offenses, ICE acknowledged. Those offenses include drunk driving, assault, robbery and drug possession.
The remaining 18 percent adds up to only 20,000 illegals of the 11.7 million illegals believed to be living in the United States.
That’s only one immigration-law deportation for every 585 illegals.
The agency said officials want to focus federal police on illegals who also commit additional crimes. “Other than convicted criminals, the agency’s enforcement priorities include: those apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, illegal re-entrants – individuals who returned to the U.S. after being previously removed by ICE – and immigration fugitives,” said the ICE report.
“Immigration laws should be enforced for their own sake, not just as a way to remove criminals,” Vaughan said.
“The main purpose of the immigration of the law is to preserve economic opportunity for Americans and the legal immigrants we choose to accept,” Vaughan said.
Roughly 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, while wages have been flat for at least five years because so many unemployed people are looking for jobs. Under current immigration law, the federal government annually provides work permits to 1 million immigrants and roughly 700,000 short-term or medium-term guest.
Since 2009, Obama’s deputies have blocked or deported 3.2 million border crossers and immigrants, according to a study of federal data by Vaughan.
That’s a less effective defense of the nation’s borders than every president since President Jimmy Carter, whose deputies blocked or deported 3.2 million illegals from 1977 to 1980. Even President Gerald Ford blocked and deported illegals at a faster rate — 804,081 per year, compared to Obama’s rate of 800,863 per year, according to Vaughan.
President George W. Bush blocked or deported 10.3 million illegals in eight years, while President Bill Clinton blocked or deported 12.3 million.
Obama’s record low deportation rate, however, is being obscured by false claims from advocates of greater immigration. They argue that that President Barack Obama has spiked deportations to record highs.
Obama’s deportation record “far exceeds the deportation levels of previous administrations and the capacity of immigration courts,” said a statement by a Chicago-based legal enterprise, the National Immigrant Justice Center.
“The high number of deportations demonstrates a failure of the administration’s 2011 promise to use prosecutorial discretion to consider the individual circumstances of people facing deportation and provide relief for those who are integrated in our communities, have U.S. citizen family members, and pose no threat,” said the group.
Those statistical and political claims are being repeated by many media outlets, such as the Washington Post, which reported Sunday that “more than 1 million illegal immigrants were deported in the past three years, a record number.”
“Since taking office, President Obama has deported more than 1.9 million foreigners, immigration officials announced last week, a record for an American president,” according to a report by New York Times reporter Julia Preston, who says advocates for an amnesty are “civil rights” protestors.
Preston’s editors later added a major correction to her article, which originally claimed Obama had caused a “surge” in deportations. “Overall deportations decreased by 10 percent in fiscal 2013 from the previous year. There has not been a ‘surge,’” said the correction.
Spanish-language media is also pushing the false claim.
“President Obama has been very bad in this. He has great guilt in this. He has deported more people than President [George W.] Bush,” claimed Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz Balart on Dec. 22.
One reason for the flawed claims about Obama’s record, said Vaughan, is that Obama administration’s data has conflated two formerly separate categories of deportations.
Prior administrations labelled the arrest and deportation of border-crossers as “removals,” and reserved the use of the “deportation” term for the expulsion of illegal immigrants living far from the border. Under President George W. Bush, removals spiked, but deportations fell sharply, partly because his deputies almost stopped investigations against companies suspected of hiring illegals instead of Americans.
But Obama’s officials have artificially boosted the claimed number of deportations by reclassifying the quick removal of many border crossers as deportations, said Vaughan. That reclassification bumps his total of “deportation” actions up to 1.9 million, and allows his allies to use friendly reporters to declare that he is deporting more people than Bush.
The pro-amnesty “advocacy groups are desperate and they know that they can generate sympathetic attention from the media, ICE is more likely to give illegals a pass to stay for a while,” she told TheDC.
In fact, enforcement declined by 11 percent in 2013, according to an October study by Vaughan’s CIS group. In New England, deportations dropped by 28 percent, according to the Boston Globe.
Obama has also awarded temporary resident and work permits to 567,563 illegals by September, according to an administration report about the June 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” mini-amnesty. The number of temporary residencies is more than four times the number of 2013 deportations.
Only 21,162 DACA applications for residency were rejected by September, said the report.
The media support for advocates’ claims of tough enforcement also helps drum up apparent political support for an unpopular amnesty, such as that offered by the Senate’s June immigration-expansion bill, Vaughan said.
However, a Dec. 10 poll by Rasmussen shows that 60 percent of Americans believe immigrations laws aren’t being enforced strongly enough. “Fourteen percent (14%) say [enforcement] is too aggressive, while 16% think the number of deportations is about right,” said the survey of 1,000 likely voters.
Many reporters are eager to portray Obama’s declining enforcement of immigration law as tough, Vaughan said. “They would like to believe it [because it] fits the story line they find exciting — that thanks to the Obama administration’s record and smart enforcement, they’ve showed it is now time time for ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’” she said.
Her claim was bolstered by a Dec. 19 article in BuzzFeed, which used the 1.9 million claim to build sympathy for deported and removed foreigners. “More than 1.5 million undocumented migrants have been deported under the Obama administration, which has prioritized deportation in an effort to demonstrate its commitment to ‘border security’ while pursuing legislation designed to provide the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship,” said the article, written by reporter John Stanton.
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