On October 16, the Migration Policy Institute released a new report entitled “Deportation and Discretion: Reviewing the Record and Options for Change.” The report is full of data on deportations of illegal aliens over a ten-year period (2003-2013). It looks at how the pattern of deportations has changed during the Obama administration compared to the pattern during the preceding Bush administration.

The report is not just benign statistical analysis, however. It goes on to analyze how deportations might be further reduced. That is apparently aimed at the Obama administration’s stated interest in policy changes that could be made by executive action to liberalize immigration enforcement. The report identifies the following steps that could reduce the number of deportations:

  • Exclude immigration crimes, e.g., failure to report for deportation. This could eliminate 7 percent of current deportations.
  • Exclude traffic offenses other than DUI. This would be another 7 percent reduction.
  • Exclude convictions for minor crimes (level 3). An 11 percent reduction.
  • Exclude convictions for all non-violent crimes. A 15 percent reduction.
  • Exclude failure to report for deportation. A 7 percent reduction.
  • Exclude failure to report for deportation if more than 5 years earlier. An 8 percent reduction.
  • Limit the period of illegal presence in the U.S. constituting recent arrival. If reduced from the current 4 years to 3 years – a 7 percent reduction. If reduced to 1 or 2 years, an 8 percent reduction. If reduced to 14 days, a 9 percent reduction.

Why anyone would want to reduce the deportation of illegal aliens is difficult for me to fathom, but that apparently is a central objective of the Obama administration’s review of possible erosion of immigration enforcement policies currently being pursued.

The report’s principal author, Marc Rosenblum had the temerity to state during the report’s unveiling that there is not much difference statistically between the composition of deportations during the Obama administration compared to that during the Bush administrations, and that you could, therefore, say that the Bush administration adhered to the same prioritization for deportations as adopted by the Obama administration. The implausibility of that statement is obvious when it is recalled that the prioritization system adopted by the Obama administration was adopted in order to stop the deportation efforts against all but the highest priority cases. In 2007 and 2008, the Bush administration engaged in a number of enforcement activities such as worksite raids and prosecutions of employers for knowingly employing illegal aliens that have been virtually abandoned by the Obama administration. The result has been that illegal aliens are virtually assured that they can continue to work illegally in the United States as long as they do not engage in violent criminal activity.

To its credit, the MPI analysis does document the end to increased interior enforcement after 2009 and a major reduction in interior immigration enforcement beginning after 2011. That trend is a direct result of the administration’s prioritized restrictions on enforcement.