Deportation has long been one of the most controversial subtopics within the already controversial topic of immigration. The Obama administration has made claims that it is only targeting “criminals, gang bangers, [and] people who are hurting the community” as opposed to students and people who “are just here because they are trying to figure out how to feed their families. Recently, however, two independent sources – the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse and the New York Times – confirmed that the Obama administration is actually capturing and deporting, by the thousands, people who have no criminal record and who pose no threat to the community. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act and data obtained through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), these sources were able to uncover statistical proof that the administration’s claims were misleading at best and outright lies at worst.
Despite the fact that the administration has made consistent claims that it is going after the most hardened criminals who are in the country illegally, the information uncovered by the independent sources, particularly the New York Times investigation, proves otherwise. According to their analysis, of the almost two million deportation cases in question, nearly 70% of them involve people who had either committed minor offenses such as traffic violations and other misdemeanors or who had no criminal records whatsoever. Conversely, only about one out of every five cases – fewer than 400,000 of the two million – involved individuals who had committed serious crimes. In terms of comparison, the final five years of the Bush (George W.) administration saw “only” about 43,000 deportations for individuals who had nothing worse than a relatively minor traffic offense on their record relative to 193,000 that have been deported with the same level of infraction during the first five years that Obama has been in office.
Additionally, there have been over 188,000 deportations related to individuals entering or re-entering the United States illegally – triple the number that were deported during Bush’s administration. It was found also that ICE classified those individuals with at least one traffic offense as well as those convicted of some manner of immigration offense as “convicted criminals”. These two categories of immigrants made up fully 50% of what ICE termed “criminal deportees”. Many find this type of data to be a far cry from ICE Director John Morton demanding greater focus to be put on finding and deporting “convicted criminals” who posed a threat to national security. The truth is that there has actually been a decrease in the number of individuals deported who have nothing more than a minor traffic or immigration offense on their record.
The TRAC study conducted by Syracuse University found that among deportees in 2013, the most common criminal convictions were illegal entry into the US, driving under the influence, and minor traffic violations. These accounted for a total of just over 92,000 deportations. Compare this to the number of individuals with more serious crimes on their record such as larceny, domestic violence, and burglary which collectively accounted for fewer than 10,000 deportations.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding this or any other immigration issue, please visit the website of the Austin immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm or call their offices directly at 512-215-5225.