Recently Mr. Jeh Johnson, the current Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), stated that the DHS’s released deportation statistics reflect deportations that occur at the border; meaning the numbers illustrate how many unauthorized foreign nationals the Department is able to apprehend at the border and prevent from entering the United States without proper immigration status. The numbers do not reflect the number of foreign nationals who are forcibly removed from the country after entering without authorization, which is how the previous administrations collected deportation numbers. Therefore, the Obama administration’s deportation statistics cannot truly be compared to those of the Bush or other former administrations as the numbers reflect different types of statistics. However, a comparison of the numbers would indicate that the deportation numbers under the current administration have decreased.
These statements by Mr. Jeh are politically relevant at this time – especially in light of the pending comprehensive immigration reform – because of how the different political parties view President Obama’s administration’s record on immigration in general and deportations in particular. When faced by conservative critics who attack the President for purposefully not enforcing the country’s immigration laws, the administration points to its deportation numbers to show that it is in fact deporting unauthorized foreign nationals. However, these numbers have also worked to earn the President the moniker “Deporter-in-Chief” from immigrant rights lobbyists who are eager to see comprehensive immigration reform become a reality and for the deportations to stop completely or decreased significantly.
According to Mr. Jeh, the reason for the drop in internal deportations under President Obama is because the current administration is shifting the focus of deportations to those foreign nationals who are repeat criminals or who pose a threat to the national security of the country. This re-prioritization is also evident in the amount of unauthorized foreign nationals who are not held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, but who are instead released under a supervision order.
The reported shift in deportation priorities has been a point of contention within the House of Representatives as that congressional body has struggled to pass immigration reform in the past year. In June of 2013, the Senate passed a reform bill that provided legalization options and pathways for unauthorized foreign nationals, additional methods for increasing border security, and new visa categories for employment-based immigration opportunities. However, the House has yet to pass any similar legislation due to the Republican leadership’s distrust of the Obama administration’s willingness to enforce immigration laws.
As the entire country waits for immigration reform, the House continues to delay passing comprehensive legislation to detriment of American families and businesses alike. The deportation numbers as explained by Mr. Jeh demonstrate that the Obama administration is in fact enforcing immigration laws at a remarkable rate. Therefore, it would greatly behoove the country and the country’s economy if the House Republican leadership would focus its efforts on passing the highly needed reform.
Additional Blog Posts
Immigration Judges Request Separation from the Department of Justice, ImmigRantings, August 19, 2013
Congress Attempts to Implement Measures to Protect Immigrants from Notarios, ImmigRantings, September 27, 2013