Report: Obama Administration Put Nearly 70,000 Criminal Aliens Back on America's Streets

A report by the Center for Immigration Studies paints a strikingly different picture of immigration enforcement from the one that the Obama administration has carefully cultivated. The administration claims that it has captured and deported record numbers of illegal aliens. But the CIS report says that in 2013 alone, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported a very small number of the criminal aliens that it encountered.


According to the report:

  • In 2013, ICE charged only 195,000, or 25 percent, out of 722,000 potentially deportable aliens they encountered. Most of these aliens came to ICE’s attention after incarceration for a local arrest.
  • ICE released 68,000 criminal aliens in 2013, or 35 percent of the criminal aliens encountered by officers. The vast majority of these releases occurred because of the Obama administration’s prosecutorial discretion policies, not because the aliens were not deportable.
  • ICE targeted 28 percent fewer aliens for deportation from the interior in 2013 than in 2012, despite sustained high numbers of encounters in the Criminal Alien and Secure Communities programs.
  • Every ICE field office but one reported a decline in interior enforcement activity, with the largest decline in the Atlanta field office, which covers Georgia and the Carolinas.
  • ICE reports that there are more than 870,000 aliens on its docket who have been ordered removed, but who remain in defiance of the law.
  • Under current policies, an alien’s family relationships, political considerations, attention from advocacy groups, and other factors not related to public safety can trump even serious criminal convictions and result in the termination of a deportation case.

“…contact from advocacy groups…”

CIS says that it obtained the data used to compile its “Catch and Release” report via lawsuit.

The Obama administration and anti-enforcement activist groups have tried to portray the number of departures as “record-breaking” and indicative of robust immigration enforcement. They have tried to support this claim by showing that the number of departures credited to ICE is higher than ever before. However, an independent analysis of ICE records obtained in a lawsuit showed that ICE was able to achieve these “record” departures only because the agency was taking credit for removing a large number of individuals who were apprehended by the Border Patrol. Such cases made up the majority of ICE’s reported deportations in 2013, but they had never been counted that way in previous administrations.5 Although former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano denied that the ICE reports on her watch were misleading, her successor, Jeh Johnson, recently admitted to a House committee that the administration’s deportation figures are not comparable to previous administrations because of the large number of border removal cases.6


Anyone advocating “comprehensive immigration reform” at this point is advocating trusting the administration that has systematically misled Americans on it deportation statistics.



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