Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Truthful is the Headline "Court Deportations Drop 43 Percent in Past Five Years"?

An article by Julia Preston in the New York Times this week with an eye catching but somewhat misleading headline ("Court Deportations Drop 43 Percent in Past Five Years") grabbed the attentiion of immigration watchers. 

Preston's story focuses on recently released statistics about formal removal orders and related data from the nation's immigration courts.  The article does not compile the entirety of the numbers of noncitizens removed formally and informally -- which includes formal removal orders and other "returns" -- by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies. 

A paragraph buried in the middle of the story acknowldges the limited scope of teh data relied on for teh story -- and the headline:  "The number of deportations ordered by immigration courts is only a portion of total deportations in a given year. But the lower numbers from the courts contributed to a drop in overall deportations last year, when enforcement agents made 368,644 removals, a 10 percent decrease from 2012."  The numbers of removals of the previous years of the Obama administration had hovered around 400,000.

The claim by some immigrant rights advocates that President Obama is the "Deporter in Chief" has grabbed the attention of his defenders and warranted a careful scrutiny of the numbers.  However, the quibbling of whether over the number of removals in stories like Preston's and others should not obscure the fact that:

1.  Hundreds of thousands of noncitiznes are being removed every year.

2.  80-90 percent of the noncitizens  removed are Latinos.

3.  Removals destroy families and communities.

4..  Due to the Secure Communities program, many of the "criminals" removed are non-violent criminal offenders.

5.  Immigrant detention, now a private growth industry in the United States, as a means of immigration enforcement has grown.

5.  Deaths occur reguilarly in the U.S./Mexico border region as a result of the increased enforcement efforts.


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