Debunked: “Obama Deported More People Than Trump”

Authored by: Matt Palumbo

Have that number of deportations fallen off a cliff since President Donald Trump take office? ? You couldn’t be faulted if you come to such a conclusion, as the entire mainstream media seems to have bought the claim at face value, hook line and sinker, reporting on the narrative that “Obama deported more people than Trump.” Bloomberg, Politico, The EconomistNPR, and countless others have all reported on some variant of the claim.

To quote from Bloomberg, “President Donald Trump sent 26 percent fewer Mexicans back home this year through November than Barack Obama did in the same period in 2016.” Put numerically, 152,000 Mexican nationals were deported from the U.S. between January-November of 2017 (the statistics were released late December, hence ending the measurement in January). By contrast, there were 205,000 deportations of Mexican nations during the first 11 months of 2016. Note that the claim is only including Mexican illegal immigrants (which are “only” half of all illegals).

To be honest, I don’t understand why liberals in particular think this claim is a “slam dunk.” Aren’t they the ones against mass deportation? You’d think a drop-off in deportations would make liberal observers happy, but instead it’s become an attack on Trump’s supposed incompetence in enforcing a key tenant of his presidential platform.

The Bloomberg article does include this minor disclaimer however, that “the decrease in removal numbers overall compared to fiscal year 2016 was primarily due to about 17 percent fewer migrants apprehended at the border.” Apprehensions at the border fell to the lowest level since 1971 during Trump’s first year in office, according to data from U.S. Border Patrol.

In other words, because of Trump’s rhetoric, fewer prospective illegals even bothered to approach the border in the first place (mainly due to Trump’s strict rhetoric on immigration, and beefing up the Border Patrol’s budget). And here’s the thing: Obama massively inflated “deportation” figures by counting “catch and releases” at the border as “deportations.” As the Los Angeles Times noted in 2014:

A closer examination shows that immigrants living illegally in most of the continental U.S. are less likely to be deported today than before Obama came to office, according to immigration data. Expulsions of people who are settled and working in the United States have fallen steadily since his first year in office, and are down more than 40% since 2009 (through 2013). 

And yet if you look at the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation numbers during the same period (2009-13) and took them at face value, you’d believe that deportations increased by roughly 11 percent. Why? Because “On the other side of the ledger, the number of people deported at or near the border has gone up — primarily as a result of changing who gets counted in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s deportation statistics.” Measured deportations excluding those at the border, there was an increase in deportations in 2017.

Not only that, arrests of illegal immigrants (particularly criminal illegal immigrants) has surged, even though they had not been deported at the time the statistics were recorded.

Absent redefining that a “deportation” is, deportations are indeed up in the administration that made combating illegal immigration a central party of their campaign platform.

No surprise there.


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