Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Uses Deceptive Numbers To Attack Immigration Reform

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review cited deceptive statistics from the Heritage Foundation to attack the immigration reform effort, falsely claiming that the Obama administration is not enforcing current laws and arguing that it would continue this practice under a comprehensive immigration reform law.

A December 15 editorial by the Tribune-Review cited a post by the Heritage Foundation to claim that “the deportation of illegal aliens, in fact, has sunk to its lowest level in 40 years” and that the Department of Homeland Security has accepted 81 percent of 580,000 applicants for provisional legal status under a program called the Deferred Act of Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Tribune-Review argued that these numbers show that the Obama administration is not committed to border enforcement and therefore should not be trusted to roll out a comprehensive immigration reform plan. 

But the Tribune-Review's analysis should be taken with a grain of salt since its Heritage Foundation numbers come from "secret numbers" obtained by the anti-immigrant nativist Center for Immigration Studies, which is known for fabricating information and pushing misleading studies.

Ignoring the dubious source of the numbers, the editorial still fails to take into account the nearly 2 million people the administration has deported over the course of President Obama's tenure. The pace of deportations under Obama's administration is actually faster than the previous Republican administration. Even with possibly decreasing deportations -- which could also be a result of lower numbers of undocumented immigrants due to alternative enforcement measures coupled with the administration's priority of deporting high-risk individuals given its finite resourcesthe cost of deportation, and the current backlog of cases -- the Obama administration has prosecuted a record number of undocumented immigrants in 2013.

The DACA program that the editorial criticizes is the byproduct of a currently failing immigration system. The temporary program, which allows undocumented children brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age and who fulfill a set of criteria to remain in the country and apply for certain benefits such as a driver's license, is not a long term fix and could cease at the end of President Obama's second term unless the next administration renews the program or a comprehensive fix is enacted. Due to intransigence by some Republicans, the popular DREAM Act, which DACA mimics, has never managed to become law despite several prominent conservatives coming out with similar proposals. Studies have shown that passing the DREAM Act alone would be a huge boost to the economy and would allow immigration officials to prioritize resources towards threats while alleviating some of the issues with the broken immigration process.