Defining Immigration Violations Away: The White House Contribution

By Stanley Renshon on September 17, 2013

At first glance the title of this entry may be puzzling, and supporters of the president would strong disagree with it. After all, hasn't the Obama administration deported "record" numbers of illegal aliens during his first term of office?

Yes, it has. The administration reports that about 1.5 million illegal aliens were deported during the president's first term. That averages out to about 375,000 per year.

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2012, that number was 409,849, of whom 55 percent were "criminal aliens". ICE said that represented "the largest number of criminal aliens removed in agency history." And that is apparently true (though my colleague Jessica Vaughan has cast doubt on the administration's immigration enforcement statistics).

The Obama administration deserves credit for removing larger numbers of those who have been convicted of homicide (1,215 aliens), sexual offenses (5,557), crimes involving drugs (40,448), and driving while under the influence (36,166) last year, although these categories by no means exhaust the list of serious crimes that result in profound harm to their victims.

However, the administration does not deserve any credit for subjecting Americans to the continued, unnecessary risk of criminal behavior year after year because it will only try to deport illegal aliens after they have committed, been charged, or convicted of a crime.

Serious crimes, like those listed above and many more not in the administration's list, committed by illegal aliens are almost wholly preventable.

I want to be very clear here. Illegal aliens are not a criminal class. Most come here to work, not commit serious crime. Nonetheless, illegal aliens do commit a number of serious crimes.

The numbers reported above by ICE as the basis for their criminal deportations represent the most visible category of a large number of crimes whose exact numbers are not possible to accurately gauge. Many crimes go unreported. Many are not solved. Plea-bargaining speeds the work of the criminal justice system, but results in convictions for less serious offenses.

And again, as noted, all of these crimes both reported and not, solved or not, or resulting in a conviction for a serious or lesser offense are avoidable.

Obviously we can't tell which of the approximately 11.5 million illegal aliens already living in this country or new illegal aliens that enter the country each year will commit serious crimes.

The point is: we shouldn't have to.

Every illegal alien who lives and works in the United States and commits a crime should not be here in the first place. And if they weren't, the crime would not have been committed.

One problem with Obama administration criminal deportation statistics, and the priorities that they reflect, is that they take decisive action only after crimes have been committed and people have been harmed.

The administration has never put any of its political weight or rhetoric behind measures that would really strengthen immigration enforcement.

Mandatory work eligibility verification procedures, putting into place a method by which to cross check entry and exit visas, and having the determination to take steps to remove those who violate their visas or work illegally would result in many fewer of these avoidable serious crimes being committed for a very simple reason.

Those who would have committed them would not be in the country.

Next: The President's Dual Enforcement Strategy: Deportation for "Serious" Criminals, Amnesty for Everyone Else