Contrary to Obama Claims, 88% of Deportees Committed Minor Infractions or No Crime at All

Thursday, April 17, 2014
(photo: Mark Ralston, AFP)

The federal government’s ramped-up deportation of illegal immigrants in recent years has not focused on criminals who committed serious offenses, according to an independent analysis that conflicts with claims of the Obama administration.


Since coming into office and continuing the George W. Bush administration’s Secure Communities program targeting dangerous, unauthorized immigrants, President Barack Obama has insisted that deportations under his watch have largely involved individuals accused or convicted of committing murder, assault, rape, robbery and other felonies.

But the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a research organization at Syracuse University, reviewed federal deportation records since 2008, the year that Secure Communities was announced, and found that almost nine out of ten of all deportees last year were accused of only minor crimes or no crime at all.


Only 12% of deportations in 2013 committed a serious or “Level 1” offense (defined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as someone convicted of an “aggravated felony,” or two or more felonies). About half of all deportees were charged with violating traffic or immigration laws.


Those guilty of entering the country illegally comprised 22.7% of deportations. Such an offense is classified as a petty misdemeanor under the federal criminal code, TRAC noted.


The New York Times came to similar conclusions after conducting its own analysis of government records, reporting that two-thirds of deportees since Obama took office were accused of committing minor infractions or had no criminal record at all. Only about 20% of cases involved convictions for serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the newspaper found.

“For years, the Obama administration’s spin has been that they are simply deporting so-called ‘criminal aliens,’ but the numbers speak for themselves,” Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, told the Times. “In truth, this administration—more than any other—has devastated immigrant communities across the country, tearing families away from loved ones, simply because they drove without a license, or re-entered the country desperately trying to be reunited with their family members.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Secure Communities and ICE Deportation: A Failed Program? (TRAC Immigration)

More Deportations Follow Minor Crimes, Records Show (by Ginger Thompson and Sarah Cohen, New York Times)

FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Immigrants Fighting Deportation Have Highest Success Rate in 20 Years (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

A Memorial to Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” 65 Years Later (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Federal Court Blasts U.S. Attorney for Deporting Witnesses (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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