Internal documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee show that the Obama administration has been “cooking the books” in order to reach their “record” number of deported illegal immigrants, chairman Rep. Lamar Smith said Friday.
Based on the internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) documents, the number of removals are actually down, the opposite of what the administration has been claiming.
According to the committee’s review, in 2011 officials at the Department of Homeland Security began including the number of individuals removed through the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) in its annual removal numbers. ATEP is a program which moves apprehended illegal immigrants to another point along the border.
The committee chair claims that counting those individuals as removals is misleading because there are no repercussions for illegal immigrants who are deported through the program, and they can simply try to re-enter.
“It is dishonest to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border as ICE removals,” Smith explained in a statement. “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.”
Given the new information, the committee’s Republican majority subtracted the ATEP removals from ICE’s deportation totals.
With the ATEP subtraction, in 2011 the estimated 397,000 deportations become approximately 360,000, and the 2012 removals to date drop from about 334,000 to an estimated 263,000, according to the committee estimates. Projections for number of people to be deported by end of the year drops from 400,000 to 315,000 removals.
The new estimates mean that this year the Obama administration’s deportation record is 14 percent below 2008 (which was 369,000) and 19 percent below 2009 (which was 389,000).
The chairman blasted the administration after the discovery, charging the president and administration officials with falsifying their record to meet political ends.
“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,” Smith said. “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.”
Smith has been critical of the administration’s immigration record, most recently with Obama’s deferred deportation plan announced in June.