New Fact Sheet Shows Rising Immigration Enforcement

Yesterday, the Immigration Policy Center released a new fact sheet pointing to a rise in immigration enforcement in the United States over the last decade. The fact sheet comes at a pivotal point. The start of this new year has brought with it renewed speculation about comprehensive immigration reform including if, when, and how it will happen. With little beyond talk at this point though, what advocates, activists and immigrant communities are left with are numbers reflecting a harsh reality.

Contrary to what many Republicans and so-called “common sense” Democrats claim, the fact sheet reveals that immigration laws are enforced more strictly now than ever before. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reported record numbers of removals during the Obama administration, especially of non-citizens with criminal convictions. Meanwhile, fewer non-citizens are trying to enter the country, most likely due to the U.S.’s poor economy. Together, these trends reflect a sweeping and punitive transformation in U.S. immigration enforcement. Some troubling trends from the fact sheet:

  • The number of annual removals has more than doubled over the past decade. In total, there have been more removals during the last ten years than during the previous 110 years combined.


  • The number of annual removals now exceeds the number of border apprehensions, suggesting that more noncitizens are being deported from the country than are caught trying to enter in the first place.


  • In fiscal 2011, nearly 70% of removals involved noncitizens who were given no opportunity to appear before an immigration judge.


  • The number of apprehensions along the border has fallen to levels not seen since the early 1970s, and authorities now regularly prosecute noncitizens for illegally entering and re-entering the country.


  • The Secure Communities program is now resulting in more than 40,000 fingerprint matches per month.

The fact sheet implicates deportation focused policy like Secure Communities and its expansion for the record number of removals. Also implicated is the lack of due process afforded to non- citizens. Changes to U.S. immigration laws enacted in 1996 permit DHS to “remove” many noncitizens without holding a hearing before an immigration judge. Under certain circumstances, for example, noncitizens may receive “expedited removal orders” and “reinstatements of removal” without having to appear in court. Indeed, the rise in “removals” over the past decade is largely due to an increase in removal orders issued by DHS officers rather than immigration judges. And while the fact sheet does show that more “criminals” are being deported, the Immigration Policy Center points out that the Department of Homeland Security calls anyone who has been convicted of even the most minor crime. Since fiscal 2009, the most frequent types of criminal convictions for noncitizens removed from the United States involved drug, traffic, and immigration offenses. . In 2011, the government removed 43,022 noncitizens convicted of traffic offenses and 37,458 noncitizens convicted of immigration offenses. Many of those charged with immigration offenses might just as easily have been prosecuted civilly, rendering increases in “criminal” prosecutions in this category somewhat misleading.

This fact sheet comes after another recently released report by the Migration Policy Institute showing record spending on immigration enforcement.

This not so surprising evidence needs to be remembered by advocates and activists as the year moves forward. We can expect a rehashing of the same old “secure the borders first” and “enforcement first” rhetoric when and if the conversation on comprehensive immigration reform evolves beyond wishful thinking. The numbers do not lie and represent a continuing wave of attacks on immigrant families across the United States. Let’s see if the next four years of Obama bring even an inkling of the change voters were promised.

Post to Twitter

One comment on “New Fact Sheet Shows Rising Immigration Enforcement
  1. Undocumented Mexican Immigrant Interview

    Hello Vivir,

    My name is Shaima Parveen. My 9th grade English class is currently working on a project centered about the concepts of empathy and misunderstandings (stereotypes, biases, etc.) in our society. I want to conduct a personal interview on the topic of undocumented Mexican immigrants and how they are misunderstood. I understand you may consider yourself a member of this group, know someone in this group, or work closely with people associated with this group. I have included my interview questions below. I would like to receive a response back by Thursday 1/10/13. Any help you can provide would be wonderful. Thank you so much for your time and participation!

    1) Many undocumented immigrants came to America for a better lifestyle. Others have fled to America due to oppression in their homelands. What about you? What motivated you come to America?
    2) Many Americans unconsciously use terms like “illegal aliens” to classify undocumented immigrants. Even in American dictionaries, undocumented immigrants are defined as “illegal aliens.” How do you feel about the use of such derogatory terms, used to refer to undocumented immigrants, like you? How would you react if someone called you an “illegal alien”?
    3) Some people believe undocumented immigrants are depriving Americans of jobs by accepting manual labor and other jobs Americans refuse to do for cheaper pay. Do you agree are disagree with this belief? Please explain.
    4) On October 10, 2012, a US border patrol agent shot 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. The border patrol agent claimed Rodriguez was throwing rocks at him and he was only defending himself from Rodriguez. Do you believe the border patrol agent was justified in killing Rodriguez?
    5) Have you ever experienced firsthand or witnessed victimization as an undocumented immigrant? Please describe your experience.
    6) Many Americans believe undocumented Mexican immigrants are after the economic benefits in America. Yet, they are unaware of the fact that most undocumented immigrants only receive meager salaries and live in considerably cheap apartments. How are your current living conditions? Do you live like most Americans?
    7) According to most Americans who oppose undocumented Mexican immigrants residing in the U.S., “America is a land of laws.” Is it always important to abide by the law even under such circumstances? Please explain.
    8) Do you have any children that are native-born U.S. citizens? If so, do they receive the same treatment as you do in American society? Please explain.
    9) In the TV series 30 Days, directed and hosted by Morgan Spurlock, two groups who have opposite stances on an issue are forced to live together. In the episode “immigration”, Frank George, a minuteman who is passionate about ending undocumented immigration, is forced to a live with a family of undocumented Mexican immigrants. Frank George is an immigrant of Cuban descent who has crossed the border legally with proper documentation. Do you feel that Frank George, who is of Cuban descent, is a hypocrite for wanting to end illegal immigration? Please explain your answer.
    10) Do you want to be better understood by Americans? Why or why not?

Comments are closed.