The President was quoted yesterday in defense of his deportation record. He stated that: "What we've seen is that the people who are being deported, the vast majority of them now are criminals."
Really Mr. President?
If we are to believe the statistics released by ICE it is estimated there were more than 400,000 people deported in 2012, of which approximately 50% were "convicted criminals." Hardly a vast majority as the President would have you believe.
But the 400,000 deportations question is: should we REALLY believe these statistics? The following is from Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is identifying fewer individuals as deportable owing to alleged criminal activity, according to the latest Immigration Court data on new deportation proceedings. During the most recent quarter (January - March 2012), ICE sought to deport a total of 5,450 individuals on criminal grounds. While this number is preliminary and is likely to increase once late reports are in, it represents a drastic decrease compared with 10,732 individuals against whom ICE sought deportation orders just two years ago (during the period January - March 2010).
But let's delve deeper into the allegation by quoting another statistic of note: In 2012, there was a 168.7% increase in federal criminal prosecutions for immigration related crimes from what was the norm in 2007. The most heavily prosecuted crime being unlawful rentry. In fact, nationwide, illegal rentry under 8 U.S.C. § 1326 was the most commonly recorded criminal charge brought by federal prosecutors in 2011.
So what does this all mean?
The Obama administration is prosecuting individuals for immigration related offenses at unprecedented levels, and by doing so they are turning mere immigration violators, people whose only crime is a violation of United States immigration law, into "criminal aliens" so that the statistics will reflect a deportation of a criminal alien. In September 2012 alone there were 8,132 new immigration related criminal convictions... and you can bet that every single one of them was deported through the reinstatement of a previous order of removal, and never had the opportunity to request relief from removal before an immigration judge.
Now I'm not saying that individuals should be committing immigration violations, or for that matter criminal violations for returning to the United States after they have been ordered removed. Far from it. We are a nation of laws and our laws need to be respected by all. What I am saying is that the administration is padding their criminal deportation statistics by loading the deck with newly minted "criminal aliens."
That brings me to my next point. In compiling the statistics what does the Obama administration count as being a "criminal alien?"
According to TRAC Immigration the administration's definition of "criminal alien" includes: individuals convicted of serious offenses like armed robbery, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, AND people found guilty of minor violations of the law such as traffic offenses, or in more basic terms people guilty of the offense of driving while brown.
So what does this mean?
The Obama administration is counting people that have minor traffic offenses that have absolutely no immigration consequences at all as criminal aliens, even when they are being deported for mere immigration violations such as a visa overstay, and not under criminal grounds of removal.
How does that sit with you?
Since we are on the topic of statistics, Tanya Golash-Boza, Associate professor of sociology at University of California-Merced, recently released a report entitled: "Mapping the Shift from Border to Interior Enforcement of Immigration Laws during the Obama Presidency."
The report found, among other things, that by 2014 the Obama administration will have deported over 2 million people, which is more deportations in six years than the entire number of people ever deported before 1997. The report further found that between July 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2012, there were 204,810 deportations of parents with U.S. citizen children.
I'll leave you with a quote that was made by ICE Director John Morton at the infancy of his appointment: "This isn't a question of whether or not we will detain people. We will detain people, and we will detain them on a grand scale."
At least he wasn't lying to us.