The Most Deportations Ever?

Deportations Obama And Bush

Dara Lind claims “Obama is deporting more immigrants than any president in history”:

Obama says he has tried to make deportation policy “smarter” by targeting “criminals” and “gang bangers” — and not going after families. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security has pushed to deport more immigrants than ever. Immigration officials wrote a “goal” of 400,000 deportations per year on a whiteboard at their headquarters, according to the New York Times.

The federal government couldn’t do both. So, in the end, Obama’s plans to selectively target deportations just ended up augmenting the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation dragnet — rather than replacing it.

Not everyone agrees with that calculation:

[New Democrat Network], in a memo being released Thursday, totaled the number of both “removals,” when individuals are deported from the country, and “returns,” when they are turned back at the border without a formal deportation process. Analyzed in this manner, the total number has fallen over the course of the Obama administration. That’s because while more people have been removed, returns have dropped dramatically.

Sean Davis goes after Lind:

In order to make her point that Obama was far more willing to deport illegal immigrants than his predecessor, she was forced to ignore and exclude 80 percent of all deportations under Bush. That’s right. How laughably wrong is Vox’s claim, which was obviously meant to make Obama look tough in order to make it easier to pass some type of immigration amnesty? …

The relative ease with which return deportations can be administered is one reason why they have been the overwhelmingly preferred method under every president of the modern era: not only do “returns” give apprehended immigrants the opportunity to enter legally in the future, the method also spares the courts from being gummed up with immigration cases. Under Carter, 97 percent of deportations were classified as “returns.” Under Reagan, it was 98 percent. For Bush I, it was just shy of 97 percent. For Clinton, it was 93 percent. And under George W. Bush, who oversaw over 10 million deportations between 2001 and 2008, returns comprised over 80 percent of all deportations. By way of contrast, that number was 50 percent through the end of Obama’s first term as president.

He provides a chart: