New ICE Data Finds Big Changes In Who Is Getting Deported From US

Given the very public discussion about the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement and deportation strategy in the last few weeks, we’ve spent some time going through a new ICE report on deportations, and frankly, it had some surprising findings in it. 

At NDN, we have long argued that despite both very real operational and political challenges, the Obama Administration has done a very good job in managing one really important piece of the enforcement puzzle - our border with Mexico.   Crime is down substantially on the US side of the border, and net migration of unauthorized migrants from Mexico has dropped from 700,000 per year to zero today.  While the border has been toughened up, we have also seen a huge increase in cross border trade with Mexico, which has almost doubled since 2009.  Despite this increased security, Mexico is now our 3rd largest trading partner and 2nd largest export market in the world. 

The new FY 2013 report from ICE, which offers a more detailed look at our deportation strategy than was available in previous years, shows similar success.   While the report shows that deportations of unauthorized migrants remain at near historic highs, it also chronicles how smart Obama Administration policies putting greater priority on the removal of criminal migrants and border crossers has dramatically altered the composition of who gets deported.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady increase in these high-priority deportations; almost all of those deported in 2013 were either convicted criminals or people caught at the border attempting to enter the country illegally.  Remarkably, only 10,336 non-criminal, non-border-crossers were removed from the country in FY 2013.  In 2009, based on one estimate, this number was closer to 150,000.  The percentage of those deported who are convicted criminals has risen from 35% in 2009, to 59% in 2013.    

These numbers should bring some comfort to the critics of the Obama Administration deportation policies.  For those wanting a more humane system, we’ve seen the near elimination of the deportation of run of the mill non-criminal unauthorized migrants.  For those calling for even tougher policies, the explosion of deportation of border-crossers and criminals should be welcome news.  Prioritizing criminals for deportation is clearly the best use of our limited deportation resources, and leaves the nation far safer than in the day of Bush era workplace raids. 

But rather than doing an even deeper analysis of the ICE report, we think it should speak for itself.   We end with some of the more interesting charts and graphs in the report, and look forward to hearing from others well versed in this tough and important issue. 

           Source: FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals

           Source: FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals

See the full "FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals" report here.

Emma Buckhout also contributed to this post.