Declining Enforcement a Likely Contributor to Growing Illegal Population

By Jessica M. Vaughan on September 24, 2013

Amnesty proponents will bravely spin the new Pew Hispanic Center report showing increasing illegal immigration as evidence that enforcement doesn’t work, as if the Obama administration has actually made an effort to enforce immigration laws. Unfortunately, internal ICE statistics show otherwise. The upward trend in the size of the illegal population is more likely at least partially the result of a significant decline in enforcement, especially in the interior, where we notice it the most. Internal ICE statistics show that the number of aliens expelled from the interior of the country declined by 20 percent from 2010 to 2012. Removals and returns are on track to decline another 20 percent in 2013.

The New York Times played its part in packaging this news by including in its coverage of the Pew Hispanic Center study a reminder of the administration’s manufactured deportation numbers:

The new estimates . . . show that the population of immigrants here illegally did not decline significantly from 2009 to 2012. That result occurred despite record numbers of deportations by the Obama administration — about 400,000 each year — and laws to crack down on illegal immigration in such states as Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia.

It’s kind of interesting how the NYT copyeditors choose the long way of expressing things; for instance, saying "did not decline" instead of "went up" and "immigrants here illegally" instead of the more accurate "illegal aliens".

Later on in the article comes a better analysis, though probably unintended as such, from the Pew Hispanic study’s lead author, demographer Jeff Passell: "We can say that the current enforcement practices have not led to any measureable reduction beyond the 2009 period."

We can say that. Current enforcement practices are to expel as few illegal aliens as possible by ordering ICE agents, ICE attorneys, and immigration judges to suspend enforcement of immigration laws, except in the case of convicted felons, who are fortunately a very small minority of the illegal population. In addition, the Obama administration has sued states like Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia for passing laws that attempted to discourage illegal settlement, and cancelled and restricted 287(g) partnerships with local law enforcement agencies that helped increase removals in those states.

In 2010, there were 224,097 aliens expelled as a result of interior enforcement by ICE. This figure does not count removals of those arrested by the Border Patrol, which have been used in recent years to create the impression of "record deportations". In 2012 the number of ICE interior removals was 176,197, a 20 percent decline. According to ICE figures, that number is on track to be about 138,000 by the end of 2013, which would be another 20 percent decline, and which would be about 40 percent lower than 2010.

As for getting enforcement help from certain states, that doesn’t seem to be happening much either. According to ICE internal statistics, since 2011 efforts to remove illegal aliens (as measured by charging documents issued) are down by 33 percent in the Arizona ICE field office and down by 37 percent in the New Orleans field office, which covers Alabama. The steepest decline in the whole country was in the Atlanta field office, which covers Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, where the administration cancelled several 287(g) partnership agreements recently. ICE agents in the Atlanta field office attempted to remove 62 percent fewer illegal aliens in the past year than they did in 2011.

The Center will be publishing a more detailed analysis of ICE enforcement statistics in a forthcoming report.