ImmigrationHouse panel charges DHS overstates deportation figures

Published 5 September 2012

A House committee says the administration inflates the number of illegal aliens it has deported in 2011 and 2012; the committee says the administration is able to cite larger numbers of deportees by including numbers from the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) in the administration’s year-end removal numbers; if the number of ATEP-removed individuals is subtracted from ICE-deported individuals, then the annualized number of deportees in 2011 and 2012 would lower – rather than higher – than the number of deportees in 2008 and 2009

DHS claims that over the last two years, the number of illegal aliens removed from the United States has increased. The House Judiciary Committee says it has obtained internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) documents, which show that the Obama administration, in the Committee’s staff words, “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.”

DHS keeps claiming that over the last two years, the number of illegal aliens removed from the United States has been increasing. Critics of the administration’s immigration policies beg to differ.

The House Committee on the Judiciary says in a release that beginning in 2011, the Committee has learned that Obama administration officials at DHS 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 (CPB) that transfers illegal immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border to another point along the Southwest border for removal.

The Committee argues that it is illegitimate to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the Southwest border as ICE removals. The reason: There are no penalties or bars attached when illegal immigrants are sent back via ATEP and they can simply attempt re-entry.

The Committee staff says that 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 percent below 2008 (369,000) and 19 percent below 2009 (389,000).

The Committee also says that internal documents 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 still more than 40,000 removals that remain unaccounted for.