Comey’ Book: A Higher Loyalty

It is number 1 on Amazon’s best seller list.  Amazon was accepting pre-orders, and my copy arrived yesterday as promised.   The White House has made James Comey out to be public enemy #1, but he was well liked under both Republican and Democrats alike.   He was confirmed as FBI Director by the Senate 93 to 1.  I’m not bothering listening to Comey’s interviews, nor the White House or Fox’s  hourly attacks on Comey.  I’m too busy reading his book.   I used to subscribe to a stock advisory newsletter, whose motto was jokingly, “Frequently wrong but never in doubt.”  I think this applies to Trump.    Comey was the exception,  “Frequently right, but usually in doubt.”

The strongest asset of a democracy is an informed public. This is Comey’s memoir from the vantage point of  the highest level of  law investigation and enforcement.  It should be read from cover to cover, ignoring  the noise coming from Washington and the media.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Search warrant for Michael Cohen, Trump’s Personal Lawyer

It appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred. Prosecutors know about white collar crime, and they are just following the money. Attorney-client privileges are not absolute, meaning what is a lawyer’s computer or cellphone can never be seen by law enforcement officers. But it has to be done through the courts based on probable cause. Court decisions acknowledge the need for confidentiality in the defense of clients and this has resulted in more rules in law office searches, designed to protect privileged information.  There are exceptions.   President Trump has stated repeatedly he had no knowledge of hush money being paid to Stormy Daniels or the contract, so the client-attorney privilege is gone in this particular matter.

The potential criminal charges against Trump’s personal lawyer are bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. This is serious stuff. The search warrant was executed on part by a referral from Robert Mueller’s office. The decision to seek a warrant was in the office of the Southern District of New York. The lead US Attorney for the Southern District is Geoffrey Berman, who is a recent Trump appointee. Only the courts can approve a warrant based on probable cause. All the specifics on the rationale for the search warrant are confidential by law. The American people do not have the right to know everything – and that’s how our justice system has always operated for the good.

Before anything is given to prosecutors, there must be an initial neutral examination of the seized material as explained below, and more completely in the second link:

The critically important interests protected by the attorney-client and work product privileges can be preserved only if the seized materials are examined by a neutral judicial officer, or by a Special Master appointed for this purpose, to determine which materials are or are not encompassed within the privileges. Such a safeguard is essential, as a number of courts have recognized.

 

This means what was seized by the FBI, is in the control of a court appointed neutral judicial officer. The person would have no connection to Michael Cohen, the Justice Department or the Southern District of NY.
Will Michael Cohen sue for irreparable harm to his practice? Absolutely. Will he get the blessings from the legal establishment to push back? Maybe. Will he be indicted? I haven’t a clue. Will this help Mueller’s investigation? Ditto.

There’s a whole pile of other questions, which no one on the outside can answer. For the time being, it appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred.

Stay tuned,
Dave

Links:

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,  Challenging the Law Office Search,  Weinberg and Homan, 1996.

The above link in from 1996.   The Fourth Amendment provides all Americans the right against unreasonable searches.  The sixth amendment provides the right to legal counsel.   Many of the rules governing legal search warrants have been the result of various court cases.   The protections available through the Fourth Amendment were strengthened by the Mapp v. Ohio court decision, which made excluded all evidence obtained illegally to be used in any court proceeding  in the US (exclusionary rule).  If the FBI breaks into an office, without first obtaining a legal search warrant, then none of the information from the search is admissible.

Privilege (evidence)

Privilege belongs to the client.  If Trump had stated that Cohen acted on his behalf, then he could use attorney-client privilege to shield Cohen.  Instead, he denied knowing anything about the payoff, so the claim of privilege evidence is gone.  It also appears that more liberal judges, tend to be give more weight to client’s rights in attorney-client privileges, than to the law enforcement’s needs.  The Andresen v. Maryland case upheld the legitimacy of the search warrant over the dissent of Brennan and Marshall.

Trump lashes out as Cohen raid fuses Russia probe and Stormy case

I’m really don’t think “fuses” is the right word.   Robert Mueller really separated his probe from Michael Cohen case, when he handed it off the the Southern District office.  It seems Trump wants to lump them together as one grand conspiracy.

Trump’s economic advisors

“It is a horrible deal, really horrible, but we’re going to fix that”

This is any particular quote from Trump but applicable to many accords – from NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to many bilateral accords, most recently his attack on he  South Korean Trade Agreement.   The same quote can be said of the Iran Nuclear deal and the Paris Accords on Climate Change Mitigation.   Everything is blamed on prior administrations, but most of the blame still goes to President Obama.

A minor case in point –  on January 12, 2018,  Trump cancelled a trip to the US embassy in London, citing Obama poor decision in moving the Embassy at a cost of 1.2 billion dollars.   It was decided upon by President Bush and not Obama.   Trump rarely lets facts get in his way.

Gary Cohen,  was the head of the National Economic Council,  and chief economic advisor to Trump.   He is generally accredited for Trump’s tax cut and jobs program, signed into law on December 22, 2017.   On March 6, 2018,  Gary Cohen resigned in March, just before the imposition of tariffs on aluminum and steel.  It was widely reported that he was against the tariffs.  Larry Kudlow has been appointed to this position.   Kudlow is a strong believer in  supply-side economics, which means that a cut in federal taxes, will stimulate the economy sufficiently to make up for the loss in tax revenue.  He been dead wrong a number of times, beginning with the opinion that tax increases would dampen the economy during the Clinton administration.  Just the reverse happened, and the economy boomed after this.

Kudlow was a strong advocate of George W. Bush’s substantial tax cuts, and argued that the tax cuts would lead to an economic boom of equal magnitude. After the implementation of the Bush tax cuts, Kudlow insisted year after year that the economy was in the middle of a “Bush boom”, and chastised other commentators for failing to realize it. Kudlow firmly denied that the United States would enter a recession in 2007, or that it was in the midst of a recession in early to mid-2008. In December 2007, he wrote: “The recession debate is over. It’s not gonna happen. Time to move on. At a bare minimum, we are looking at Goldilocks 2.0. (And that’s a minimum). The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come”. In a May 2008 column entitled “‘R’ is for ‘Right,'” Kudlow wrote: “President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country”. By July 2008, Kudlow continued to deny that the economy was looking poor, insisting that “We are in a mental recession, not an actual recession.” Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, creating a full-blown international banking crisis.

Larry Kudlow is well educated, articulate and  very straight forward.  He has been a regular commentator on MSNBC.  His comments is generally appreciated, as he is well informed.  However,  he has been frequently wrong on the basic moves of the economy, I believe because of his philosophical perspective of less government intervention.   This has been chronicled in a book entitled Superforecasting (2015).   The book explains how experts in various fields, do no better than amateurs.

Two key advisers right now, are Peter Navarro, Director of the National Trade Council  and Wilbur Ross,  Secretary of the Commerce Department.   In many administrations, these organizations and individuals might not receive much attention, as they engage in behind the scenes negotiations on trade and commerce.   However,  as fears of a trade war with China,  intensify and concerns of the impact on our economy is debated,  these two individuals are increasingly in the media, particularly in the business news reporting.

Peter Navarro is a very controversial figure at present.  Wikipedia labels him as a heterodox economist, with opinions  outside of the mainstream economistss.   He is also considered a protectionist and isolationist by Wikipedia.   According to the Guardian:

Navarro was a key architect of Trump’s “America First” policy of economic nationalism and a tireless critic of China’s economic policies – one of his books is decorated with a map of America being stabbed in the heart with a knife marked Made in China. Although he has agitated for aggressively protectionist trade policy since joining the Trump campaign in 2016, the tariffs are his first key victory. During the campaign, Navarro, the only economics PhD in the Trump team, described his role as merely a facilitator. “The president – he’s the man who leads,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “He says, ‘I want to do this. How do we do it?’ The way I help is figuring out how you might do it.”

Protectionism, or economic nationalism?  Perhaps the choice of words doesn’t matter; it is the outcomes in the long run that are important.   I’ve included links on Peter Navarro at the end of this blog.

Finally,  a key adviser to Donald Trump is  Wilbur Ross.   His view on trade, as per Wikipedia:

On the subject of foreign trade, Ross has said: “I am not anti-trade. I am pro-trade, but I’m pro-sensible trade. [Being anti-trade] is a disadvantage of the American worker and the American manufacturing community.” Ross has also said that the government “should provide access to our markets to those countries who play fair, play by the rules and give everybody a fair chance to compete. Those who do not should not get away with it – they should be punished.” Initially in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Ross has said that after examining the agreement, he found it was “not consistent with what was advertised.”[34]

In 2004, The Economist described Ross’s views as protectionist. Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has also voiced concerns during 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos over Ross and the Trump administration views as “not the proper answer”.  Ross, at the 2018 World Economic Forum, responded to concerns by noting that “There have always been trade wars. The difference now is U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts.”

Wilbur Ross has appeared on a number of business news stations, including MSNBC, and I happen to like his straight forward answers to questions.  He always seems to be well prepared, informed and polite.   He chooses his words well.    However, he seems to underplay the affect of the proposed tariffs  might have on the stock market.

How the Trump trade wars will finally be resolved, is difficult to say.   Republican biased news stations say that in the end,   the hard position taken  by Trump will result in China yielding, particularly on intellectual property rights.  Other commentators see only an escalation of tariffs, as China would rather fight than be seen as having given in to the US.   Economic nationalism works on both continents, sometimes escalation is easier than compromise.  Certainly, the sell off in the stock market is based on the potential for a protracted battle.

As I publish this blog, the Dow is poised to drop around 500 points.

I have included a number of links on Cohen, Kudlow, Navarro and Ross.   All individuals  have extensive biographies available on the Internet.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:Wilbur Ross

Wikipedia:  Peter Navarro 

Peter Navarro, the economist shaping Trump’s economic thinking

Wikipedia:  Larry Kudlow

New York Times:  Larry Kudlow is the new favorite to replace Gary Cohen

Wikipedia:  Gary Cohen 

 

 

 

FIU Bridge Collapse – Additional Thoughts

I’ve gone through just about all the information on the bridge.   Construction began with a metal framework incorporating the span and canopy.   Then cement was poured first into the span and then the canopy.  The movement of the structure was done very carefully and it sure looks like everything was executed according to plan.   Once the structure was landed on the two supports (South support and Tower landing) and any temporary supports removed,  the full weight of the structure (950 tons)  would be evenly divided between these two posts.   It would be evenly divided if both posts were at the exact same elevation and vertical.   Now, let us suppose that the tower post  (the smaller of the two supports) moved ever so slightly either down or away from the bridge.  In either case, the forces on the tower post increases, and pushes away from the structure.    Under this scenario, the accident begins with the tower post moving slightly down or off vertical and then  is unable to support the north end of the bridge.  In rapid succession, the north end becomes disconnected from the tower and drops to the roadway, and the rest of the bridge is pulled down as a result.

The tower post seems to be located in a canal which runs along 8th Street.   The base of the tower, could be the weakest point in the design during this initial installation.   The rebar framework  within the post, really provides the strength and resilience of the post and it could have been  deformed  during the loading of the span.    There is no easy way to know if the tower post  could support 475 tons of weight (or more if it had moved), until it was in position.

The alternative scenario is that the bridge buckled in the middle, because the structure wasn’t built strong enough. As the center of the bridge came crashing down, it pulled free of the north tower  and then this section crashed to the roadway.  So, it is a question of which crashed first, the center or the north side.

Certainly, a lot of investigation will be on the stress testing, to be conducted on the day of the accident and if temporary supports were removed prematurely.   Also, the decision not to block off traffic during testing will be part of the investigation.

Please note, that I am not a bridge engineer,  nor have any training or education in this area.   So all of the above is pure speculation.   I do not plan to post  anything further until a final report is published.    The real bridge  experts are on the scene with full access to all the necessary information.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

FIU Bridge Disaster

It is a terrible tragedy.  It is very premature to know the reasons for the collapse.   The experts will be examining all the information and this will take time.  Let’s be patient.

The bridge sits in front of the FIU university, which prides itself of its Civil Engineering Department.  Had the bridge been successful, it would have been used to promote the school and the Department.

The bridge traverses 8th Avenue.  I’ve been to FIU numerous times, and considered enrolling there.  There is a light at 107 Ave and 8th St, but it is still hazardous to cross, due to the many lanes of traffic.  The pedestrian bridge was considered after an accident where a pedestrian was killed.

Discussions  from outsiders as to the cause, are pure speculation. Still, questions are appropriate at this point.  Cracks were observed at the north end of the span, where the span attaches to the tower.  From photos of the accident,  it appears  the span completely separated from the tower at this juncture.

The span that collapsed was 174 ft long and weighed 940 tons.  This is 10,000 pounds per foot.   This would be the same as 135 bags of concrete each weighing 80 lbs per ft.  It just seems incredibly heavy.

The span was installed with the canopy.  I am interested to know why as it would add weight to the span and could have been added later.  The tower was a critical element in the structure, as the cable stays would support the bridge in tension.

The bridge might have been designed properly but the sequence of installation made it unsafe.  This is likely to be examined closely. It would seem that the northern span could have been installed first, as this simply would traverse a small lake.

A meeting was held with FDOT officials and the construction firm, on the morning of the disaster.  I am certain this will be part of the review and little is gain from trying to piece together what was discussed.    To avoid the disaster,  8th Avenue would have had to be blocked from traffic, causing an incredible traffic jam.

In the time between now and the review by FDOT, there will be a lot of comparisons to other bridge disasters.   How much of this is really relevant, I can’t say.    This bridge had a number of unique features, including the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) methods, which may make comparisons to more conventional designs difficult.

I won’t go into the legal consequences.  There are hundreds of news stories out there, with excellent information.  Avoiding Monday morning quarter-backing is hard.  I will be patient.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

FIU Bridge Disaster in Miami

It was an enormous tragedy.  My heart goes out to the victims.   The pedestrian bridge as designed had a tower in the center, and supports at either end.  I call the support to the left, the South support, and to the right the North support.  The span that collapsed was the long span, from the South  support to the tower.  The tower had only been completed to the level of the walkway.

I can only go by the pictures as to what has happened.  The picture is taken from a different perspective so north and south are reverse.  The span  appears to have come loose of the tower post.  Video seems to show this part of the span crashing to the ground.   The piece on top of the tower post is a supporting member for the canopy.  The bridge collapsed on nearly every lane of the eight lane highway.

 

I’ve made a little sketch of the accident without the canopy as follows:

bridge 2

The bridge could have begun to sag in the middle, where the stress would be the greatest, and then the span connected to the tower pulled loose.  Something had to give between the two posts as the bridge began to sag in the middle.  All this happened extremely fast as motorists had no time to get out of the way.

The investigation has not yet begun, and will undoubtedly involve the design, the planned installation and actual installation.  Certainly, the weight of the structure and the installation of the long span without a tower and stays, will be an issue.

I am certain there will be an investigation by bridge engineers, and they will provide a competent analysis of the disaster.  I can only go by what is in the pictures.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Getting closer to center

Republicans, Democrats and Uncommitted.  I  agree with a lot of the Democratic party’s goals, but not all of them.   Seems like there was a lot of talk of bring down the US deficit prior to the election, by cutting spending.   There’s been a lot of talk, but the debt ceiling will have to be bumped up again.

I guess what I like most is a unity between Republicans and Democrats.   Or at least I am still hoping on the issue of gun violence, there can be at least a few Democrats joining with Republicans.

Immigration reform ought to be a bipartisan issue also, but perhaps I’m dreaming.

Free trade has been a Republican idea for a long time.   I generally like trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific  Pact, which seemed to help balance out China’s aggressive deal making in the region.   Threats of tariffs are being used as bargaining chips – I think this will fail, because other leaders have to reciprocate or look weak to their electorate.

I don’t like it when Donald Trump calls Democrats “obstructionists” – this does represent about half the country.  I am hoping he is replaced with someone more closer to the center who will never resort to name calling.

I want a president which will restore the Environmental Protection Agency instead of bring in someone to wreck it.  I still consider the protection of the environment a bipartisan issue.   Perhaps, this is another one that left port a long time ago.

I’m sadden by what has happen to television  in terms of reporting the news.   I read a lot and enjoy mainstream media, like the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.  They are doing journalism the old fashion way, by putting knowledgeable journalists on the front lines.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

The Churchill Movie “Darkest Hour”

The film “Darkest Hour” is enjoyable and well crafted.   It has been nominated for 6 Academy Awards including best picture and best actor.   It has already won many awards (see link at end).

The film bothers me, but perhaps my problem is with the genre of “docudrama” and the blurring of reality and fiction.  It has been called historical fiction, which is really a mishmash of what happened many years ago, and what film makers conveniently invented.   The life of Winston Churchill has been so well documented, that what did not happen is very clear to historians, but not the general audience.   I think a bit of embellishment of characters is fine,  but there should be limits.    The movie, I believe, just went too far in the fiction department.

The subway (or “Underground”) ride is total fiction.  I won’t go into all the details, but for those who are interested, I’ve included a good article from Slate, as written by a professor of history.  The fictional Churchill was conflicted on whether to negotiate with Hitler and needs to ride the subway to connect with the countrymen and their views.  In this  one short episode, the producers  severely mischaracterized both Churchill and the mood of the English commoner at the time (see Slate article).

To spice up the movie version of history,  Lord Halifax and Neville Chamberlain are conspiring to end Churchill reign by a vote of no confidence.    Never happened, and the whole conspiracy stuff is a great example of crossing the line.

The Academy Awards occur on March 4, 2018.  Despite my protests, the film may very well win the Academy Awards.  It might not be that bad, as it will stimulate interest in the life of Churchill.

Links:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/12/08/what_s_fact_and_what_s_fiction_in_darkest_hour.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkest_Hour_(film)

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

US Jobs and Economic Growth – Cutting through the Trump BS

The US economy was strong in 2017.  Trump’s claim that two million new jobs were added, is right.   Of course,  job growth was good leading up to his inauguration, so he shouldn’t be taking credit for the entire year.

What’s not right, is that the economy was terrible under Obama, and he somehow turned things around.  It was a terrible economy in the last year of Bush’s administration, and aggressive action by both Bush and Obama helped the recovery.  I just go by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to make my point.

Trump’s monthly average gain of 171,250 new jobs doesn’t look too good, nor does the 2 million new jobs stand out against Obama’s administration’s numbers.   The housing bubble (2004 – 2006) produced some high gains, but it all came crashing down in 2008 to 2009.  The stock market made an all time low in March 2009.

It took time for our economy to recover, as there was only a 1 million job gain in 2010.   But,  our economy has proven to be much more resilient than economists were predicting in 2007 to 2009.   The December 2017 labor statistics just came out with 148,000 new jobs, well below the 190,000 estimate.  The stock market continued its rally, based on the concept of a slowing economy  discourages the Fed’s program of gradual rate hikes.  Or another words, some bad news is actually good news to the stock market, just so long as it isn’t terrible news.

I’ve included one link as posted in Yahoo – Finance, entitled “Challenge for Trump: Job Growth is Slowing”  which adds a bit of reality to the whole story.  We likely attributed too much to actions of an administration, as the factors influencing growth (good or bad) may take years to develop.  The housing bubble was at least seven years in the making (includes both the Clinton and Bush administrations).  Also, an unemployment of 4.1% is considered a good number, and attempts to stimulate the economy further puts pressure on wage growth.

So, the chief concern is that inflation will increase more rapidly than wages, so many workers will feel  their spending power reduced.  Not good for retail, and ultimately this could lead to a recession.   In this case, the reduced corporate tax rate will help in reducing debt, not expanding businesses.   So, Wall Street may prosper at least in the short term, as Main Street suffers.

See link:

Challenge for Trump: Job growth is slowing

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Giving

There are many organizations doing terrific work around the world helping people in need.  I’ve listed a few of the agencies involved in disaster relief and assistance to refugees.  The many conflicts around the world have left many without food or shelter.     My list:

Foundationhalo.org

Oxfam

One American Appeal

Doctors without Borders

International Rescue Committee

Global Giving

UN Refugee Agency (UNHRC)

American Red Cross

Dave

Ignorance is bliss

“So long as I know it not, it hurteth mee not.”

I like the original proverb, by G. Pettie in 1576 than today’s  version, “What I don’t know can’t hurt me.”   Unfortunately, what we don’t know, does hurt us.   From our ignorance we just don’t know the best way to respond to problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency cancelled the participation of three of their scientists in the Narragansett  Bay Estuary Program’s workshop.  One scientist was prohibited from giving a keynote address at the workshop.  The other two scientists removed from the program were to speak about “The Present and Future Biological Implications of Climate Change.”

See Links:

The EPA Stopped Three Agency Scientists From Talking About Climate Change at a Conference

Even Fox Business News reported the story:

EPA cancels appearance by scientists at climate change conference

An  estuary is   where fresh outflows come in contact with the salt water from bays or oceans. They are particular sensitive ecosystems.  Fresh water inflows may contain contaminants harmful to the more saline water in the estuary and depend on plants and other material  to act as to keep the ecosystem in balance.   See link:

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/estuaries/estuaries03_ecosystem.html

EPA Director Scott Pruitt clearly put politics ahead of science.  Climate change is harmful to estuaries.  See link below:

NOAA report highlights climate change threats to nation’s estuaries

Fortunately,  NOAA is under the US Department of Commerce, out of the reach of Pruitt.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Mon Dieu, ce n’est pas vrai!

Translation, My God, it isn’t true.  How on earth can a Rodin scupture be hiding in plain sight for decades in the corner of a municipal building in NJ?

A Rodin sculpture of Napoleon has been discovered in a Madison, NJ. Auguste Rodin died in 1917 and was in his time, a very controversial artist.

It was reported by the New York Times, in a wonderful story, which has posted it on the internet.

A Rodin Hiding in Plain Sight in a New Jersey Suburb

William Rockerfeller, Jr is mentioned in the article.  He is John D. Rockerfeller’s brother and co-founder of Standard Oil.

Stay tuned,

Dave

He said/she said …

If the real thing don’t do the trick
You better make up something quick
You gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn to the wick
Oooo, Barracuda, oh yeah

Lyrics from Barracuda by Heart

He said, she said and then the video said.   And the video showed the truth as plain as day.

I am talking about the recent spat between Representative Frederica Wilson and White House chief of staff,  General John R. Kelly.    The statement by Kelly was that Wilson bragged how she secured $20 million for a South Florida FBI building in 2015 through twisting Obama’s arm.   It would have been another dumb and distracting feud, except the speech had been video taped by the Sentinel Sun.  What Representative Wilson had done was just the opposite – she acknowledged the help of Senator Marco Rubio,  Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, all Republicans, and she never took credit for the funding of the building. In fact, she wasn’t even elected to Congress when funding for the building occurred.

The building was named after two slain FBI agents. Wilson did take credit for approval of the name of the building just days before the dedication.

Pretty mean spirited stuff from the White House.   Lesson to General Kelly- don’t escalate a feud, if it means crossing over between what is an opinion to what is a lie.  For this one, I don’t need any research, it’s all on the video.  See link:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-reg-wilson-kelly-tape-of-speech-20171020-story.html

It may be pretty small, but it looks like the White House is lining up on the side of the lie instead of the truth.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Immigration Removals

I know this is a hot issue.  This blog is narrowly focused on historical and recent removal statistics.  Here’s my conclusion – Trump in 2017 will likely deport the same or slightly fewer immigrants than Obama did in his last year.   I know this seems contrary to the general impression that Trump is far more aggressive against illegal immigrants  than Obama.  I will explain why.

President Obama record of deportations is shown below based on the ICE website.  There is an upward trend in deportations, peaking at 409,000 in 2012, then declining to 235,000 by 2015.  I’ve rounded the numbers for convenience.    The deportations in fiscal year (FY) 2016 are basically the same as 2015, at 240,000 removals,  or an average  20,000 deportations per month.

immigration trends

The blue bars are the non-criminal removals.   The priority shifted during Obama’s administration to target removals of illegal immigrants with a criminal convictions, as the blue bars become smaller percentages of the entire bar over time.

The decline in removals from 2012 to 2016 is likely attributable to a reduction of immigrants coming through from Mexico.   Security barriers including extension of the security fence and electronic surveillance likely discouraged immigrants or at least made the crossings much more expensive.   There is a network of “coyotes” operating in many countries, such as Brazil, Guatemala and Nicaragua which organize illegal entries into the US, and my extremely limited polling indicates the cost is rising, costing as much as $10,000.   News of increased border enforcement  can  discourage illegal entry.    Therefore, it should  not be interpreted that a decline in removals means that enforcement is lacking.

The Obama administration, through Executive Orders,  aggressively targeted illegal immigrants with criminal records, as shown by the graph below:

ice removals

 

The blue line is for “interior removals” (away from the border or near border towns) and is represents the Obama’s efforts to target immigrants with criminal conviction records.   I don’t have a breakdown of these offenses,  but they likely include fairly minor offenses.

ICE attributes the increase in removals in 2016 due to: (1) increase state and local cooperation through the priority enforcement program (PEP) and (2) increased border security.    They state that 99.3% of the illegal aliens by ICE in 2016 met the enforcement priorities.     The statistics for 2016 are provided below:

2016 Statistics
Number %
At border removals 174923 72.8
Interior removals 65332 27.2
Total 240255
At border convicted of a crime 78351 44.8
At border, not convicted of a crime 96572 55.2
total 174923
Int. removals convicted of crime 60318 92.3
Int. removals not convicted of a crime 5014 7.7
Total 65332
All removals convicted of crime 138669 57.7
All removals not convisted of crime 101586 42.3
Total 240255
At border, non-criminals 96572 95.1
Int. removals, non-criminals 5014 4.9
Total 101586
Suspect of confirmed gang members 2057 0.9
Not suspected or confirmed gang members 238198 99.1
Total 240255

Probably, if Trump’s policies are working as he claims,  the interior removals of immigrants convicted of crimes would rise above 60,318 in 2017.    The best estimate I have at present is 202,000 removals for 2017, which will be about 14% below 2016.   This would not be any fault of enforcement, but rather a decline in border crossings.  Separating fact from fiction will be challenging.

Stay tuned,

Dave