How the Deportation Numbers MisleadRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: illegal immigration, deportation
Adam Goodman is a historian and freelance writer based in Mexico City
Over the past five years, activists, academics and the news media have stressed that the Obama administration has removed nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants, and is on pace to deport more than any other White House in U.S. history.
The truth is that the U.S. is actually deporting fewer people than it did before — but the way in which it is doing so has never been so punitive.
There are two ways in which someone can be forced to leave the U.S. The first is by removal, which the federal government defines as “the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal.” The second is by return, or “the confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States not based on an order of removal.” That was formerly referred to as a “voluntary departure.”
In fiscal year 2013, the United States removed 368,644 people who were in the country without authorization. That’s down from a record 419,384 the year before. In 2012 — the last year for which federal statistics for both removals and returns are available — the US deported a total of 649,352 people, down from President Bill Clinton’s all-time high of 1,864,343 in fiscal year 2000....
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