Obama Administration Sets Record for Removing Illegal Aliens

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced last week that the Obama administration has achieved “record-breaking immigration enforcement statistics” in fiscal year 2010 (FY10), which ended September 30th. (See Secretary Napolitano Announces Record-Breaking Immigration Enforcement Statistics Achieved under the Obama Administration, DHS press release, 06.Oct.2010.) According to a DHS press release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported a record number of criminal aliens in FY10, “with more than 392,000 removals nationwide,” of which half – “more than 195,000 – were convicted criminals.”

The press release was politically pointed; with elections less than a month away, it was well-timed to provide ammunition to Democratic incumbents and aspiring officeholders who find their party under attack for (purportedly) being “soft on illegal immigration,” or for “coddling illegal criminal aliens.” (You don’t have to think hard to imagine the attack ads on this issue; in some locales, you only need to turn on your radio or television.) The DHS press release showed an Obama administration flexing its enforcement muscle by throwing out record numbers of criminal aliens, in numbers far greater than the Bush administration did:

“The fiscal year 2010 statistics represent increases of more than 23,000 removals overall and 81,000 removals compared to fiscal year 2008 – a more than 70 percent increase in removal of criminal aliens from the previous administration. DHS has also expanded the Secure Communities initiative – which uses biometric information and services to identify and remove criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails – from 14 jurisdictions in 2008 to more than 660 today, including all jurisdictions along the Southwest border. … This year alone, Secure Communities has resulted in the arrest of more than 59,000 convicted criminal aliens, including more than 21,000 convicted of major violent offenses like murder, rape, and the sexual abuse of children.”

Secretary Napolitano’s announcement also publicized the administration’s efforts to prosecute employers suspected of hiring illegal immigrant workers, noting that, in less than two years, the Obama administration has audited and debarred more illegal employers than its predecessor did in the eight years previous.

All of this goes a long way toward establishing President Obama’s bona fides as an enforcer of existing immigration law – something many say he had to do to pave the way for immigration reform. This may be a necessary condition, but it’s unlikely to be sufficient to bring GOP members back to the negotiating table to get a CIR bill with which both sides can live. With complaints from the left about the summary nature of the criminal removal process – which raises due process concerns among immigrant advocates (See Enforcement vs. Immigration Reform, by Elise Foley, Washington Independent, 07.Oct.2010.), and with calls from the right for ever-stricter enforcement mechanisms, it’s questionable how much these record-breaking new statistics will help the administration.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.