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

 

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