Aliens_Removals_by_Year_120815Testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focused on the Obama Administration’s lax interior enforcement policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldaña admitted a dramatic decline in criminal alien deportations. (Video of the hearing is available here)

True immigration reformer Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, presented Saldaña with deportation numbers he obtained from ICE. “In [fiscal year] 2011, your agency, ICE, removed 150,000 criminal aliens from the interior, in fiscal year 2012 it dropped to 135,000, in fiscal year 2013 it dropped to 110,000, in fiscal year 2014 to 86,000, in fiscal year 2015 we believe the number is only around 63,000,” the senator said. When asked if she agreed with the numbers, Saldaña said that “they sound about right.” Sessions noted that the deportation numbers reflect a dramatic reduction, “You’re actually removing less than half as many criminal aliens as you were in just 2011.”

When pressed by Sessions to explain precisely why criminal alien deportations are down over the last four years, Saldaña cited effective enforcement along with a public awareness campaign aimed at prospective aliens. She also argued that her agency was doing all it could to deport criminal aliens. “ICE will continue to do the best job we can, within the bounds of existing law, to accomplish our mission, make strategic use of our resources, and improve efficiency and reporting,” she said. Sessions was not satisfied, noting that her agency’s budget for deportation was increased from $2.6 billion in 2011 to $3.4 billion this year, and that the government even returned part of that allotment.

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