Anti-Immigration Group Claims Obama Hasn’t Deported Enough Immigrants

CREDIT: ThinkProgress/ Esther Y. Lee

At some point this week, President Barack Obama (D) will have deported two million immigrants during his presidency. But an immigration-restrictionist think tank is asserting that Obama has not deported enough “potentially deportable aliens.” In a report released Monday, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) alleged that the Obama administration only charged 25 percent of “potentially deportable aliens” and that ICE agents released about “68,000 criminal aliens in 2013.” Yet, CIS’s latest report has spun a selective narrative using distorted data that points to criminal immigrants being “caught and released” into American society.

The CIS report stated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported 721,976 encounters with “potentially deportable aliens” between the 2012 fiscal year and the 2013 fiscal year, but followed through with immigration “criminal” charges for 193,357 of those “aliens.” It added that ICE personnel released many of those immigrants “because of current policies that shield most illegal aliens from enforcement, not because the aliens turned out to have legal status or were qualified to stay in the United States.”

While even the Obama administration has placed emphasis on deporting immigrants who “endanger our communities,” the definition for criminal offenses can range from anything like aggravated felonies down to misdemeanors involving offenses like marijuana possession.

Many of the “potentially deportable aliens” are encounters with immigrants in general, including undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants such as legal permanent residents. While those 193,357 immigrants — or 195,000 as used in the report — were issued a charging document, a total of 368,644 immigrants were deported in 2013. As Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director at The American Immigration Council, pointed out, “not everyone that is removed by ICE is issued a charging document … 160,000 were removed based on the reinstatement of a prior order of deportation and 23,455 were “voluntarily returned” to their country of birth—neither of which requires the filing of charges.”

The CIS report also distorted a Congressional Research Services report by overstating the number of undocumented immigrants who were rearrested. About 3,980 (or 24.5 percent) of those rearrested fell into the civil violations of the INA category, while 1,929 (or 11.9 percent) fell into the DUI (that do not result in homicide or manslaughter) category, and 1,707 fell into license violations category.

And the report also alleged that “ICE agents released 68,000 aliens with criminal convictions, or 35 percent of all criminal aliens they reported encountering.” CIS claimed that there were 67,879 “criminal releases,” but the ICE “weekly departures and detention report” data linked to the report makes no mention to the criminal release number. Johnson again explained, “the report claims ICE ‘released’ 68,000 ‘criminal aliens’ yet fails to explain that being released is not the equivalent of being set-free. Being released from ICE custody often means being issued a notice to appear in court, released with an ankle bracelet or released under an order of supervision. These details were conveniently left out of the CIS analysis.”

This is not the first time that CIS has used misleading statistics to espouse anti-immigrant sentiments. CIS previously compared “immigrant and native-born welfare rates without controlling for differences in income levels,” referred to immigrants who marry US citizens as “Third-World gold-diggers,” and Jessica Vaughan, the CIS report author once argued that “the Temporary Protection Status for refugees has contributed to ‘the burgeoning street gang problem in the United States.’” Also, according to Imagine 2050, staffers including Mark Krikorian, CIS’ Executive Director, have all contributed to the Social Contract Press, a white nationalist publishing house established by John Tanton.