The numbers continue to conflict with immigration advocates’ criticism of President Obama as “deporter in chief.”
Justice Department statistics released this week reveal that new deportation cases brought by the Obama administration have declined, so too have deportation or removal orders from judges — causing the number of deportations through the courts to decline 43 percent over the last 5 years according to the New York Times.
The administration opened 26 percent fewer deportation cases last year than in 2009. Further, the instances in which a judge has decided against deportation have increased, from one-fifth in 2009 to one-third last year.
To be sure, the number of deportations stemming from court orders are but a share of the overall removals annually, which have also been on the decline.
A Homeland Security Department official told The Times that the filing of fewer deportation cases are indicative of the administration’s “exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” seeking to focus resources on convicted criminals, security threats, and recent border crossers.
“The administration has taken a number of steps to focus our resources on those priorities,” DHS press secretary Peter Boogaard said.
The report comes on the heels of the release of internal ICE data which revealed that the vast majority of illegal or criminal aliens ICE encounters are not charged with immigration offenses and that last year alone some 68,000 criminal aliens were caught and then simply released back into the United States.
“According to ICE personnel, the vast gap between the number of encounters reported and the number of aliens put on the path to removal exists because officers are not permitted to file charges against aliens who do not fall into the administration’s narrowly defined criteria for enforcement, regardless of the criminal charges or the circumstances in which the alien was identified,” A Center for Immigration Studies report about the data explained.