While the Obama Administration says its immigration priorities focus on the removal of criminal aliens, a new analysis of government data reveals that — in addition to a ten-year low in overall deportations — criminal deportations are plummeting as well.
According to a Center for Immigration Studies review of recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data this fiscal year through the third week of June, ICE has made 168,781 deportations, down from the same point in 2015. ICE is on pace to hit 230,000 deportations by the end of the fiscal year, the lowest number of deportations since 2006.
“These statistics reveal an alarming deterioration in immigration enforcement. The economic, social, and public safety consequences of this surely will be a lamentable legacy of the Obama administration,” the report, authored by CIS’ director of policy studies Jessica Vaughan, reads.
Notably, the deportation figures include some clever Obama Department of Homeland Security accounting that, compared to other administrations, artificially inflate the overall number of deportations. Namely, unlike previous administrations, Obama’s DHS includes recent border crossers in its the tally of interior removals. Indeed, most of the removals to date (72 percent) have been recent border crossers.
“Interior deportations fell to 46,511 to date, according to the report, putting ICE on pace to complete 63,700 this year. This is approximately one-fourth the number of interior deportations completed by ICE in 2009, the first year of the Obama administration,” Vaughan notes in her report.
Beyond the overall decline in deportations, the removal of criminal aliens is also on the low end. According to Vaughan’s report, to date, ICE has deported 43,005 criminals from the interior of the U.S., on pace to complete 59,000 criminal deportations by the end of the fiscal year.
“This is a decline of more than 60 percent from 2011, which was the peak of criminal deportations that resulted from the implementation of the Secure Communities program,” Vaughan wrote. “Under Secure Communities, ICE developed the ability to locate criminal aliens by matching the fingerprints of all those arrested nationwide with the DHS databases of known aliens.”
The Obama Administration ended the Secure Communities program as part of the president’s 2014 executive amnesty effort. DHS replaced it with the Priority Enforcement Program, focusing immigration enforcement against only those illegal immigrants who have committed heinous enough crimes and recent border crossers.
In addition to the decline in deportations, Vaughan also highlighted an overall decline in “ICE enforcement activity” wherein not only are arrests and detainers down, but so too are encounters and the issuance of charging documents. ICE has even stopped reporting the number of encounters it has with aliens. The agency has also failed to maintain its congressionally mandated average daily detained population of 34,000, only detaining an average 28,449.
“Even though space is available, ICE has released more than 86,000 criminal aliens from its custody since 2013, including more than 19,000 in 2015,” Vaughan writes.
With the decline in enforcement has been an increase in the number of aliens who have been ordered removed but remain the U.S., a population that has grown by more than 25,000 since the end of last fiscal year, reaching 953,507.
“Of these, 182,786 are convicted criminals, an increase of more than 3,700 since last year. Of the criminals, 176,126 are at large, an increase of nearly 4,000 since last year,” Vaughan notes.