Smith: Administration Cooks the Books to Achieve Deportation Numbers

Statement

By:  Lamar Smith
Date: Aug. 24, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

The House Judiciary Committee has obtained internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) documents, which show that the Obama administration is cooking the books to achieve their so-called "record' deportation numbers for illegal immigrants and that removals are actually significantly down -- not up -- from 2009.

Beginning in 2011, the Committee has learned that Obama administration officials at the Department of Homeland Security started to include numbers from the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) in its year-end removal numbers. The ATEP is a joint effort between ICE and Customs and Border Protection that transfers illegal immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border to another point along the Southwest border for removal. But it is illegitimate to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the Southwest border as ICE removals. There are no penalties or bars attached when illegal immigrants are sent back via ATEP and they can simply attempt re-entry.

When ATEP removals are subtracted from ICE's deportation numbers, the 2011 removal total would drop from approximately 397,000 to roughly 360,000 and the 2012 removal total would drop from about 334,000 to around 263,000 (annualized this is estimated to be a drop from about 400,000 to 315,000). This means that ICE removals for this year will be about 14% below 2008 (369,000) and 19% below 2009 (389,000).

The internal documents also reveal a discrepancy between arrests and actual removals. Specifically, ICE has reported 221,656 arrests yet report 334,249 removals for 2012 so far -- a discrepancy of nearly 112,000 removals. ATEP accounts for 72,030 removals within this discrepancy, but there are over 40,000 removals that remain unaccounted for.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the statement below criticizing the Administration for artificially inflating their deportation numbers.

Chairman Smith: "Internal Department of Homeland Security documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee reveal that President Obama and other administration officials have falsified their record to achieve their so-called historic deportation numbers. Administration officials claim that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported a record number of illegal immigrants but the facts show that they have fabricated their deportation statistics by illegitimately adding over 100,000 removals to their deportation figures for the past two years.

"Since 2011, the Obama administration has included numbers from a Border Patrol program that returns illegal immigrants to Mexico right after they cross the Southwest border in their year-end deportation statistics. It is dishonest to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border as ICE removals. And these "removals' from the Border Patrol program do not subject the illegal immigrant to any penalties or bars for returning to the U.S. This means a single illegal immigrant can show up at the border and be removed numerous times in a single year -- and counted each time as a removal. When the numbers from this Border Patrol program are removed from this year's deportation data, it shows that removals are actually down nearly 20% from 2009. Another 40,000 removals are also included in the final deportation count but it is unclear where these removals came from.

"In a campaign season when Administration officials have made a habit of spinning their numbers to ignore their real record, it's no surprise that they are doing the same to their immigration record. It seems like President Obama is trying to trick the American people into thinking he is enforcing our immigration laws. But no amount of spin can cover up the facts. It's bad enough that the President has neglected to enforce our immigration laws but it's even worse that his Administration would distort statistics to deceive the American people."