Fox Casts Doubt On Obama Immigration Enforcement As 2 Millionth Deportation Nears

Fox News responded to the announcement that President Obama has ordered a review of his administration's deportation policies by casting doubt on his enforcement efforts, claiming the nearly 2 million deportations number is inflated because it includes both removals and returns. In fact, whether undocumented immigrants apprehended at or near the border are removed or returned, both methods result in their expulsion from the country; moreover, data show the Obama administration has removed a record number of immigrants.

Obama Orders Review Of Deportation Policies To Lessen Family Separations

NY Times: “Obama, Citing a Concern for Families, Orders a Review of Deportations.” As The New York Times reported, on March 13, President Obama said “that deportations of illegal immigrants should be more humane, and to make that happen, he has ordered a review of his administration's enforcement efforts.” The article continued:

Mr. Obama revealed the effort in an Oval Office meeting with Hispanic lawmakers on Thursday afternoon, telling them that he had “deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system,” according to a White House statement.


Mr. Obama -- who told the lawmakers that he had ordered Jeh C. Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, to conduct the evaluation -- is under increasing pressure from Latino advocates to all but suspend aggressive efforts to deport illegal immigrants. Activists and Hispanic lawmakers say the government is ripping families apart by deporting people whose only crime was coming to the country illegally. Some groups said Thursday that a review by Mr. Johnson would not go far enough. [The New York Times, 3/13/14]

Center For American Progress: “More Than 5,000 American Children Are In Foster Homes” Because Parents Have Been Deported. In the Times article, Center for American Progress vice president for immigration policy Angela Kelly explained that the high amount of deportations has led to a “crisis point” in family separations:

Privately, top Obama aides have expressed frustration at the push from Hispanic activists that the president act unilaterally to stop deportations.


Angela Kelley, the vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, said that activists also understood the importance of keeping up pressure on Republicans in the House, who have refused to consider a bipartisan Senate bill to overhaul immigration.

“Make no mistake,” she said. “It is the Republicans who are responsible for the fact that we don't have reform today.”

In the meantime, Ms. Kelley said, she and other advocates for illegal immigrants were looking to Mr. Obama to slow the record number of deportations. She noted that more than 5,000 American children are in foster homes because one or both parents have been deported.

“We have reached a crisis point,” Ms. Kelley said.

“The question is,” she added, “which end of Pennsylvania Avenue” will fix the problem. [The New York Times, 3/13/14]

The Economist: “It Is Hard To Find Many Areas Where The Federal Government Is So Effective In Implementing Laws Passed By Congress.” In its issue documenting the rise of deportations under President Obama, The Economist explained that Obama “has presided over one of the largest peacetime outflows of people in America's history” and noted: “Last year America removed 369,000 undocumented migrants, an increase of nine times compared with 20 years ago (see chart 1). This takes the total number of the deported to almost 2m in Barack Obama's presidency.” The article continued:

While this has been going on, the number of people entering America illegally via the south-western border has dropped. There are no official numbers on how many people become illegal immigrants by overstaying their visas. But the data that are collected, combined with estimates to fill the gaps, suggest that in the past couple of years, for the first time since people started to talk about illegal migration, the outflow has been greater than the inflow.

On one measure this is a great success. It is hard to find many areas where the federal government is so effective in implementing laws passed by Congress. Yet it is harmful--not just for the deported, who often have a miserable time once they are expelled (see article), but for the country they leave behind, something which even the deporters have come to recognise. [The Economist, 2/8/14]

Fox News Claims Obama Administration Is “Cooking The Books” On Deportations

Brian Kilmeade: Obama Administration “Admitt[ed] To Fudging The Numbers On Deportations.” Discussing the planned review of deportation policies by the Obama administration, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated, “After admitting to fudging the numbers on deportations, the Obama administration now want[s] to reduce the deportations of illegals by letting criminals stay?” Kilmeade later claimed that the administration has not deported more immigrants than any other administration, saying that “in reality, he was using the wrong numbers in his calculus.” Guest Kris Kobach, Kansas' secretary of state, agreed, saying that President Obama “was cooking the books” because immigrants caught at the border and then turned back should not count as official deportations. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/18/14]

Katie Pavlich: “We Have The Administration Not Being Too Honest About The Fact That They're Not Deporting People As They Claim.” Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich disputed the administration's border enforcement efforts, claiming that “when you talk to people on the ground, they say that the border is not more secure than it was when he took office, as they have claimed. There are still people coming across.” She added, “Now we have the administration not being too honest about the fact that they're not deporting people as they claim, they're simply -- the border patrol is doing their job in that they're catching people at the border and turning them back away.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 3/15/14, via Media Matters]

Fox Hosted Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio To Claim Obama Administration Is “Cooking The Books” On Deportations. On Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto welcomed Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to accuse the Obama administration of “cooking the books” and “play[ing] around with statistics” to inflate its deportation numbers. Cavuto went on to cast doubt on the administration's numbers as well, saying: “I'm trying to get to the bottom of how they came to that 2 million figure and the best I can figure, is they count them as sent back if they're in jails like yours and they haven't formally been deported. That's the only way I can come up with the 2 million figure, and that's at best probably specious on my point.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/21/14]

Returns And Removals Both Result In Expulsion

Historian Adam Goodman: Removals And Returns “Both Result In People Leaving, Often Against Their Will.” In an op-ed for Al Jazeera America in which he explained how the Obama administration's deportation policies are more punitive than those of past administrations, historian Adam Goodman noted that while there are certain differences between removals and returns, “both result in people leaving, often against their will.” He added that “both removal and return require an individual to leave the country by order of the federal government, and both should be counted in the total number of deportations.” Goodman further noted that the administration “has removed a record number of immigrants over the past five years” and that the consequences of removal are “more severe.” [Al Jazeera America, 1/24/14]

IPC: “Since 2005, Voluntary Return Has Been Made Available To Fewer And Fewer Apprehended Immigrants.” In a fact-sheet documenting the growth of deportations, the Immigration Policy Center explained that the “federal government has, for nearly two decades, been pursuing an enforcement-first approach to immigration control that favors mandatory detention and deportation over the traditional discretion of a judge to consider the unique circumstances of every case.” IPC continued:

The U.S. system of deportation (and immigration detention) has been growing for decades under both Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses. The impetus for this growth was a small section of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) known as the MacKay amendment, which encouraged the initiation of deportation proceedings against any immigrant convicted of a deportable offense. Since that time, a stream of punitive legislation has eaten away at the traditional discretion of judges to grant relief from deportation in particular cases.

The end result is that the number of “removals” (deportations) has trended upward since the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, the number of apprehensions has fluctuated widely, primarily in response to changing economic conditions in the United States and Mexico, and nose-dived when the recession of late 2007 hit. The number of “voluntary returns” has tracked apprehensions closely. However, since 2005, voluntary return has been made available to fewer and fewer apprehended immigrants as deportation (with criminal consequences for re-entry into the country) becomes the preferred option of U.S. immigration authorities. [Immigration Policy Center, 3/10/14]

Pew Research Center: Since 2005, the Border Patrol “Has Reduced Voluntary Returns For Immigrants It Apprehends.” In a March 18 study, the Pew Research Center reported that since 2005, “the Border Patrol has reduced voluntary returns for immigrants it apprehends, while increasing the use of other strategies.” Pew added:

These include criminally charging immigrants apprehended at the border with unlawful reentry and increasing the use of expedited removals (which do not require a judicial review). And for those immigrants who are apprehended at the border and removed, the Border Patrol has used remote repatriation as an additional strategy, sending deported immigrants to border ports many miles away from where they were apprehended, or, in the case of Mexican nationals, repatriating immigrants into the interior of Mexico (Rosenblum, 2013). These strategies are intended to break the smuggling cycle and deter an apprehended immigrant from attempting further illegal entries into the U.S. [Pew Research Center, 3/18/14]

Wash. Times: Many More Immigrants Caught Illegally Crossing The Border “Are Put Into Full Deportation Proceedings.” A Washington Times article highlighting that “Republican critics have argued [administration] deportation numbers are artificially inflated because more than half of those being deported were new arrivals, caught at the border by the U.S. Border Patrol,” noted however that "[i]n the past, illegal immigrants from Mexico who had just illegally crossed the border would often times be returned, only to try again almost immediately. Now, many of them are put into full deportation proceedings." From the article:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged Tuesday that his department's deportation numbers are now mostly made up of illegal immigrants caught at the border, not just those from the interior, which means they can't be compared one-to-one with deportations under President Bush or other prior administrations. 

The administration has argued it is tougher on illegal immigration than previous presidents, and immigrant-rights groups have excoriated President Obama, calling him the “deporter-in-chief” for having kicked out nearly 2 million immigrants during his five-year tenure. 

But Republican critics have argued those deportation numbers are artificially inflated because more than half of those being deported were new arrivals, caught at the border by the U.S. Border Patrol. Previous administrations primarily counted only those caught in the interior of the U.S. by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

“Under the Obama administration, more than half of those removals that were attributed to ICE are actually a result of Border Patrol arrests that wouldn't have been counted in prior administrations,” said Rep. John Culberson, Texas Republican.

“Correct,” Mr. Johnson confirmed.

That would mean that in a one-to-one comparison with the final years of the Bush administration, deportations of those same people under Mr. Obama had actually fallen, according to immigration analysts who have studied the data.

In 2013, ICE was responsible for about 133,000 of the 368,000 immigrants removed. The Washington Times calculated that meant a less than 1 percent risk of an illegal immigrant living in the interior of the U.S. being deported.

Mr. Johnson said they are prioritizing those they think deserve deportation. In the past, illegal immigrants from Mexico who had just illegally crossed the border would often times be returned, only to try again almost immediately. Now, many of them are put into full deportation proceedings. [The Washington Times, 3/12/14]

The Obama Administration Has Removed A Record Number Of Immigrants

PolitiFact: Through FY 2012, Obama Administration Has Officially Removed Nearly 1.6 Million Immigrants. In an article examining whether Obama has presided over a record number of deportations, PolitiFact reported that, using only removal numbers through fiscal year 2012, the Obama administration had deported nearly 1.6 million immigrants. PolitiFact relied on official DHS data from the 2012 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, stating that it “chose not to” use statistics from ICE because “ICE numbers lump together two separate statistics: removals and returns.”  PolitiFact concluded:

On average, Obama is outpacing Bush by year. But since Obama hasn't yet served two full terms, Bush has still overseen more deportations than any other president.


We looked at statistics that used more a literal definition of deportation. By that standard, Obama is on track to outpace Bush by the end of his term, but he's not quite there yet, according to Homeland Security data. At nearly 1.6 million deportations, that's still some distance from “approaching 2 million.”

It's too soon to say that Obama has deported more people than any other president. But with the information available, it looks like he's on track to do so. [PolitiFact, 3/17/14]

Pew Research Center: Illegal Reentry Accounted For Nearly Half Of The Growth In Federal Convictions From 1992-2012. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, “Dramatic growth over the past two decades in the number of offenders sentenced in federal courts has been driven primarily by enforcement of a particular immigration offense -- unlawful reentry into the United States.” Pew continued:

Between 1992 and 2012, the number of offenders sentenced in federal courts more than doubled, rising from 36,564 cases to 75,867.1 At the same time, the number of unlawful reentry convictions increased 28-fold, from 690 cases in 1992 to 19,463 in 2012.2 The increase in unlawful reentry convictions alone accounts for nearly half (48%) of the growth in the total number of offenders sentenced in federal courts over the period. By contrast, the second fastest growing type of conviction -- for drug offenses -- accounted for 22% of the growth.

Immigrants charged with unlawful reentry -- a federal crime -- have entered or attempted to enter the U.S. illegally more than once. They may also have attempted to reenter the U.S. after having been officially deported.3 Many of those charged with unlawful reentry were apprehended at the U.S. border by the U.S. Border Patrol. [Pew Research Center, 3/18/14]

Pew Research Center: In 2012, Unlawful Reentry Cases Were The Second-Most Sentenced Federal Offenses. According to its study, the Pew Research Center found: “Unlawful reentry cases alone accounted for 26% of sentenced federal offenders -- second only to drug offenses in 2012. This is up 13-fold since 1992, when offenders sentenced for unlawful reentry made up just 2% of sentenced offenders.” Pew further reported that in 2012, “immigration offenses -- of which unlawful reentry is the largest category -- represented 30% of offenders, up from 5% in 1992.” [Pew Research Center, 3/18/14]