Open-Borders Obama Sets New Deportation Record

<a href="">jordi.martorell</a>/Flickr

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced Tuesday that it has reached a new record number of deportations for Fiscal Year 2011: 396,906 removals of unauthorized immigrants.

The numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Last year ICE miscounted the number of deportations, and the number was revised down to 387,790, still a record. Or at least it was a record, until today. ICE has previously stated it has the resources to deport about 400,000 people a year, which means that Tuesday’s number puts ICE around 3,000 people shy of the total number of people the agency says it has the capacity to deport.

ICE Director John Morton boasted in a statement that “These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before.” Specifically, ICE says that of the 396,906 number, a full 55 percent were “convicted of felonies or misdemeanors.”

The categories Morton cites, however—homicide, sexual offenses, DUIs and “drug-related crimes”—only account for 87,547 of the 215,698 deportations counted as criminal removals. This lumps pot-smokers with drug dealers and murders, and it doesn’t even account for half of the deportations ICE categorizes as “criminal removals,” which raises the question of just how many people in this category actually fit the description of someone who has committed a serious crime or poses a threat to public safety—the types of unauthorized immigrants the administration says it is most focused on removing.

In the twisted bizarro world of Washington politics, media conventions have obliged journalists to report with equal “balance” the Republican claim that Obama is pursuing a policy of “backdoor amnesty” even as he racks up more deportations than any president ever before. You’ll hear something similar at the GOP debate tonight if the Republican candidates are asked what needs to be done about illegal immigrations. Perhaps the other candidates will compete with Herman Cain at imagining the most elaborate possible death trap that could be placed at the border to deter would-be migrants.

What you won’t hear about, however, is the human cost to the families, citizen and non-citizen, impacted by the sheer volume and efficiency of the Obama administraton’s immigration removal policy. Neither side is particularly interested in talking about that—Republicans because compassion for the undocumented is political suicide, and the administration because it’s attempting a delicate balancing act between strict immigration enforcement policies and maintaining the approval of Latino voters who were hoping for more out of the Obama administration than record deportation numbers.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.