America

Deportations Higher Under Obama Than Bush

deportees in shackles

hide captionShackled illegal immigrants from Mexico are boarded onto a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement chartered deportation flight at O'Hare in Chicago, Il., May 25, 2010.

LM Otero/AP

Here's an interesting, counter-intuitive fact to bring up during your next dinner-party: deportations of illegal immigrants are higher under President Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.

The Washington Post reports:

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office.

The effort is part of President Obama's larger project "to make our national laws actually work," as he put it in a speech this month at American University. Partly designed to entice Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, the mission is proving difficult and politically perilous.

This isn't exactly new news. There've been stories for months about the trend, including in the WaPo itself.

Still there are many people who will be surprised to learn that deportations are higher under a liberal administration than a conservative one.

What's changed has been the mix of deportations. The Bush Administration did more work-site raids with many of the illegal immigrants rounded up in those raids being deported.

The Obama Administration has focused more on deporting illegal immigrants with criminal histories, especially violent ones. The Bush administration also went after criminals illegally in the U.S. but under Obama that has been ratcheted up.

Both administrations got tough in their own ways because of the political realities.

When he pushed an immigration overhaul in 2006 and 2007 that would have included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Bush was rebuffed by an anti-amnesty backlash in Congress and the public.

Critics angrily demanded that the administration enforce the immigration laws first, before trying "rewarding" those who entered the country illegally with eventual citizenship. The Republican administration responded with more work-site raids.

Obama has indicated he plans to take on the challenge of an immigration overhaul before he face re-election. Like Bush, he faces the same pressures to crack down on illegal immigration if he is to have any hope of getting enough support to pass a legislative fix of the immigration laws. The increase in deportations is part of that strategy.

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