On Monday, November 9, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected President Obama’s 2014 plan to defer deportation for parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents and for young immigrants brought here as children. The president’s plan would have protected about 5 million of the estimated 11 million immigrants present in the United States without legal status. According to NPR, the Obama administration plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
One week of immigration news: because it’s important. And because it’s important, during this Give to the Max week, please consider donations to the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota and the Advocates for Human Rights, two organizations doing good and important work. Monday: Immigrant hunger strikes; Tuesday: Dogs before children; Wednesday: Deportation numbers and the latest ruling on the president’s plan ; Thursday: Broken immigration courts; Friday: Changing face of immigration, nationally and in Minnesota.
After years of aggressive enforcement and high numbers of deportations, the 2014 deportation numbers decreased to 231,000, the lowest number since 2006. That was due, at least in part, to the new priorities set by the Department of Justice last year, at the time that President Obama announced his plan. The plan and those priorities marked a reversal of the administration’s previous emphasis on high numbers of deportations. The number of people deported does not include Mexicans who are caught at the border and immediately returned.
Deportation costs time and money, so it should target people who pose a threat to national security or public safety, rather than people who are working to support their families. But that’s not necessarily how it works. Associated Press notes that:
“The figures also show that deportations of criminal immigrants have dropped to the lowest numbers since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, despite his pledge to focus on finding and deporting criminals living in the country illegally.”
Writing in Vox, Dara Lind explains that the federal Criminal Alien Program (CAP) generated large numbers of deportations, but that “the share of people deported for serious or violent crimes didn’t actually grow: It never exceeded 20 percent through 2013.” Instead of focusing on only serious crimes, Lind wrote, “local police essentially have the power to shovel as many unauthorized immigrants as they choose at the federal government and hope the feds are interested in deporting them.”
According to the American Immigration Council’s November 2 report on the Criminal Alien Program (CAP),
“Between FY 2010 and FY 2013, ICE encountered over 2.6 million persons through CAP, but removed fewer than 508,000. Of that number, 87,426 individuals had a conviction for a violent crime or a crime the FBI classifies as serious (a mere 3 percent of the total number of encounters).
“Out of more than half a million CAP removals that took place between FY 2010 and FY 2013, ICE classified the largest share (27.4 percent) as not “definite criminals”—i.e., ICE recorded no criminal conviction. The second- and third-most prevalent categories of CAP removals were of individuals whose “most serious” criminal conviction involved a “traffic offense” (20 percent) and “dangerous drugs” (18 percent), followed by “assault” (6 percent) and “immigration” (5 percent).”
The real problem goes beyond deportation, back to the broken immigration system. People who have been working and living peacefully in this country should have a way to apply for legal status. They should not be the targets of deportation.
The president’s plan is no more than a stop-gap measure. Real and lasting fixes to the broken immigration system require Congressional action, and so far Congress has spent decades debating without passing comprehensive immigration reform.
- Appeals court deals blow to Obama’s immigration plan (NPR, 11/10/2015) <http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/10/455438464/appeals-court-deals-blow-to-obamas-immigration-plan>
- High court appeal of immigration case comes mid campaign (Washington Post, 11/10/2015) <https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/appeals-court-rules-against-obama-immigration-plan/2015/11/09/da50e81a-874a-11e5-bd91-d385b244482f_story.html>
- US government deports fewest immigrants in nearly a decade (AP, 10/6/2015) <http://bigstory.ap.org/article/1f2b76154513479fa2bb86ea0210a00d/us-government-deports-fewest-immigrants-nearly-decade>
- New deportation numbers may signal more targeted enforcement (Immigration Impact – American Immigration Council, 10/6/2015) <http://immigrationimpact.com/2015/10/06/new-deportation-numbers-may-signal-more-targeted-enforcement/>
- Inside the government’s most powerful weapon for deporting unauthorized immigrants (Vox, 11/2/2015) <http://www.vox.com/2015/11/2/9657806/criminal-alien-program>
- Enforcement overdrive: A comprehensive assessment of ICE’s Criminal Alien Program (American Immigration Council special report, 11/2/2015) <http://immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/enforcement-overdrive-comprehensive-assessment-criminal-alien-program>