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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Washington Post Corrects Mischaracterization of Obama's Deportation Record

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Bryan Johnson and LatinoRebels.com have diligently worked to persuade the Washington Post to correct factual inaccuracies contained in an article about the Obama administration honoring the man responsible for deporting toddlers.

From Bryan Johnson:

The Washington Post advised that a second change to its article was made. Here are the changes:

And last year, the percentage of illegal immigrants with criminal records reached a record share of total deportations, ICE officials said. The number of those deported with criminal records has declined in recent years, however.

Homan managed these deportations with the help of an expanded fingerprinting system that local police departments share with immigration authorities.

Additionally, the article now includes this editor’s note:

Editor’s note:
This story has been updated to clarify that in 2015, Homan’s team was responsible for a record percentage of total ICE deportations of undocumented immigrants with criminal histories. The story had incorrectly stated the team was responsible for a “record number” of deportations of these migrants when in fact the number of those deported with criminal histories declined.

FIRST UPDATE, April 27, 2015 11am ET: Lisa Rein, the Washington Post reporter who authored the article on Thomas Homan, made an addition. (in bold)

Last year, Homan managed the deportation of a record number of illegal immigrants with criminal histories with the help of an expanded fingerprinting system that local police departments share with immigration authorities. Migrants with criminal convictions made up 59 percent of deportations last year, the largest percentage of the agency’s removals in recent years, ICE officials said. Migrants with criminal convictions made up 59 percent of deportations last year, the largest percentage of the agency’s removals in recent years, ICE officials said.

I appreciate Ms. Rein’s prompt response to the concerns I raised with her and the Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron. However, the addition cited to above does little if anything to mitigate the false statements that remain in the article.


The Post now makes two factual claims that are irreconcilable 1. In 2015, Homan was responsible for the deportation of a “record number” of immigrants with criminal histories; and 2. In 2015, Homan was responsible for the deportation of a “record percentage” of immigrants deported had criminal histories.

A number is not a percentage, as the words’ respective definitions demonstrate:





The facts are clear: Mr. Homan never managed the deportation of a record number of immigrants with criminal histories. A percentage can only be understood in the context of a number within a greater number. It is a word of an entirely different species than that of the word number.

As described in the original article below, the difference is crucial because in 2015 Mr. Homan managed the deportation of the second-lowest number of immigrants with criminal histories in the history of Obama’s presidency.


As such, the Washington Post must withdraw its claim that Mr. Homan managed the deportation of a record number of immigrants with criminal histories.


There are numerous other problems with the article not mentioned previously, such as the blanket reference to all those who have been deported as “illegal immigrants.” As we have pointed out numerous times in the past, the use of the word “illegal” to describe immigrants is often fundamentally inaccurate.


For example, many immigrants who were deported were legal residents of the United States until they were physically deported to their native countries. Immigrants can be have legal status or be lawfully present in the United States and be removable or deportable at the same time.


Also, Ms. Rein clings to the “illegal immigrant” to describe hundreds of children, many of whom were infants and toddlers. Toddlers cannot knowingly come to the United States illegally. For example, an adult can be charged with a federal misdemeanor crime for unlawfully entering the United States. A toddler cannot.

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