The mainstream media and open borders advocates have done an outstanding job of painting President Obama’s administration as tough on immigration violators, even calling him “the Deporter in Chief.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the administration falsely painted itself as tough on immigration lawbreakers, while simultaneously eliminating most immigration enforcement, thereby endangering both national security and public safety.
This administration’s deportation statistics were deliberately manipulated to mislead the public. Deportations — the removal of immigration violators arrested in the interior of the United States — have fallen steadily since President Obama’s first year in office and have declined over 40 percent since the Bush administration.
While drastically reducing the number of criminals, terrorists, and immigration violators deported from the United States, the Obama administration simultaneously kicked open the back door.
To camouflage this fact, the Obama administration padded its statistics by adding in “turn-arounds” – the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens caught crossing the border illegally, or found inadmissible at a port-of-entry. The only problem: “turn-arounds” aren’t, and never were, true deportations. They involve an entirely different legal process. By including “turn-arounds,” the Obama White House bolstered its “deportation” numbers and disguised the fact that it was destroying the nation’s immigration enforcement plans.
The vast decline in real deportations was the direct result of the Obama administration’s disastrous Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). In essence, PEP prohibited U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from prosecuting most deportable aliens. Under PEP, only aliens with convictions for egregious crimes were placed in removal proceedings. The result: The vast majority of the deportable alien population got a reprieve from any type of enforcement action.
This foolhardy program put the public at risk and rendered immigration offenses inconsequential. It also led to the proliferation of “Sanctuary Cities,” that refuse to cooperate with Homeland Security officials and regularly release alien criminals from their jails. Many sanctuary cities plan to continue flouting immigration law under the new Trump administration by offering criminal aliens a free lawyer at taxpayer expense.
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The “Deporter-in-Chief” followed up PEP by directing ICE to release nearly 90,000 criminal aliens from detention. All of the released individuals were convicted of serious offenses and should have been deported. Instead — murderers, rapists, child abusers, and thieves were allowed into our communities, where many offended again.
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But the insanity doesn’t end there. While drastically reducing the number of criminals, terrorists, and immigration violators deported from the United States, the Obama administration simultaneously kicked open the back door. Over the course of his eight years in the White House, the U.S. has admitted approximately 605,000 refugees. Many hail from countries known as hotbeds of terrorism. None of them were properly vetted.
President Obama’s Deferred Action for Children of Aliens (DACA) program conferred quasi-legal status on approximately 740,000 illegal aliens in an unconstitutional mini-amnesty that cost taxpayers millions. And the Obama administration mismanaged the surge of unaccompanied alien children seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile status at the southwest border. A special component of this program identified children in foreign countries with illegal alien relatives in the U.S. and transported those children here at taxpayer expense — making the U.S. government blatantly complicit in facilitating the entry of illegal aliens and condoning the overt violation of immigration law.
President-Elect Donald Trump has promised to secure America’s borders and improve immigration enforcement. If he stands firm on his commitment to regain control of immigration, he can at least undo some of the damage wrought by his predecessor. No matter what he does, however, it is virtually impossible that his record on immigration enforcement will be worse than the “Deporter-in-Chief.”
Matt O’Brien is the former chief of the National Security Division within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He has also served as assistant chief counsel in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York District. He is currently the director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).