President Obama Increasingly Refused to Deport Immigration Violators Throughout Presidency

Over the past eight years, President Obama and his supporters tried to convince the American people that he took a strong stance when it came to enforcing immigration law. Some open borders proponents even went as far as labeling him the “Deporter in Chief.” But last week, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released removal statistics for the president’s final year in office. A complete eight-year picture is now available of what the outgoing administration really did when it came to removing those who violate our immigration laws. In short, it is the polar opposite of the picture painted by his administration.

Since taking office in 2009, the truth is that the Obama administration progressively dismantled immigration law enforcement while simultaneously making entitlements more easily available to illegal aliens. These actions, coupled with an improving economy, would appear to be incentives for more people to attempt immigrating into the U.S. illegally. Indeed, the progressively increasing number of illegal aliens turned back while trying to cross the border throughout most of the Obama administration adds evidence to this claim. To hide the ever decreasing interior removal numbers from a public that supports immigration enforcement, the administration started including these border returns in its overall deportation numbers.

This dishonest maneuver was necessary because interior removals looked miniscule compared to the already underwhelming deportation statistics under previous administrations. In FY 2009, approximately 240,000 interior removals were conducted by ICE. That number has steadily decreased by an average of 25,000 per year. In 2016, only 65,000 immigration violators were removed from the interior of the United States. (click for larger version of graphic)


In addition to drastically scaling back removals, the Obama administration opened up the floodgates in other areas of immigration as well. During his administration, approximately 605,000 refugees, many from terrorist hotbeds, have been admitted despite undergoing minimal vetting. Furthermore, the president enacted the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which required that only immigration violators who had committed other crimes, of a more severe nature, could be placed in removal proceedings. This resulted in the release of some 90,000 criminal aliens back into society. By creating programs like these, combined with a non-enforcement policy, the administration succeeded in making the United States a de-facto open border nation.

Donald Trump made immigration reform a central issue of his successful presidential campaign. Based on how badly President Obama failed at immigration enforcement, President-elect Trump seemingly has nowhere to go but up. However, the American people sent a clear message to Washington, D.C. by electing someone who promised to enforce immigration law. President-elect Trump and the GOP-led Congress can expect to be held accountable and suffer the consequences should they fail to deliver on their promise to repair the currently ineffective and broken system.

The DACA Pardon Issue is Finally Laid to Rest

DREAM Act-FAIROnce the shock from Donald Trump’s surprise presidential victory wore off, open borders groups and illegal aliens began scrambling for ideas to keep DACA individuals in the country. The panic was unsurprising because President Obama unilaterally created DACA meaning his unconstitutional executive action had no basis in law and could be immediately nullified by a future president—a point Obama repeatedly acknowledged. What is surprising is the absurd “answer” these groups came up with: Obama should pardon the approximately 750,000 DACA recipients.

Any attorney worthy of the degree hanging on his/her office wall could immediately tell you this is not a viable option. First, the pardon power is limited to criminal offenses, not civil offenses which immigration violations are. FAIR’s Research Director Matt O’Brien pointed that out last week. More importantly, even if Obama could pardon DACA recipients it absolutely would not put them on a path to citizenship as amnesty advocates claimed. Indeed, all a presidential pardon would do is forgive an illegal alien’s unlawful presence. The individual would still have no legal status to remain in the country and would revert back to being an illegal alien if they failed to return home within the set grace period. In fact, the only benefit a hypothetically-pardoned DACA recipient could receive is the waiver of the 3/10 year bars which would not be triggered upon departure because the pardon removed the unlawful presence.

Much to the dismay of pro-amnesty Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and illegal alien interest groups, the Obama administration has finally come out and said what was obvious to so many of us. In a podcast interview, White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Munoz said, “I know people are hoping that pardon authority is a way to protect people. It’s ultimately not, for a couple reasons. One is that pardon authority is generally designed for criminal violations, not civil. But also it doesn’t confer legal status. Only Congress can do that. So ultimately, it wouldn’t protect a single soul from deportation.”

Mr. President – Trump’s Enforcement Message Resonates with American Voters!

President ObamaAt his first press conference since the election, President Obama told reporters that he wanted to ensure a smooth transition between himself and President-elect Donald Trump and that he intended to give Trump “space” to determine his agenda as well as staff.  Yet, at this very same conference, President Obama said that he would “urge the president-elect and the incoming administration to think long and hard before they are endangering the status of what for all practical purposes are American kids.”

Obama’s claim that DACA recipients are “American kids” is factually incorrect on a number of levels. First, DACA recipients are citizens of other nations who are living in the U.S. unlawfully. Second, many DACA recipients are full grown adults. Despite the rhetoric, the actual criteria for DACA eligibility include being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 and claiming to have entered the U.S. before turning 16. Thus, you have DACA recipients who are nearly 35 years old today—hardly the “kids” that open borders advocates claim benefit from the program.

Additionally, the recent election shows that the American people favor Trump’s approach to immigration over Obama’s. By electing  someone who championed the American public’s interests in immigration policy over a candidate who pledged to exceed President Obama in the use of executive action to protect illegal aliens, Americans made their views on immigration clear. A pre-election poll by Pulse Opinion Research that found that 54 percent of likely voters believed there has been “too little effort” to enforce our immigration laws and 56 percent supported “causing illegal aliens to return to their home countries by penalizing employers, getting cooperation from local law enforcement, and denying welfare benefits.”

Social Security Benefits for Illegal Aliens

Flag_of_the_United_States_Social_Security_AdministrationBy handing out work permits to illegal aliens, the Obama administration is creating an even earlier insolvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. Apologists for the illegal aliens still claim they are subsidizing the retirement system because they are paying in but receiving no benefits. That contention, however, was based on illegal aliens working with fake or stolen Social Security Numbers (SSNs) that did not allow them to claim benefits.

The degree to which illegal aliens subsidized the Trust Fund has always been overstated because a large share of illegal workers have been working for cash with no Social Security withholding. The low wages of most illegal workers also minimized the amount of withholding going to the Trust Fund.

Now, the situation is experiencing a fundamental change with the Obama administration’s implementation of an unlegislated and renewable amnesty known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Some 800,000 DACA recipients have already been given work permits and SSNs. Those beneficiaries are now able to work legally, so most of them are likely no longer working ‘off-the-books’ for cash wages. They establish legitimate accounts in the Trust Fund and will be eligible to apply for retirement benefits upon reaching the qualifying age if they have worked the minimum required amount.

This looming new major demand on the solvency of the Trust Fund will be exponentially compounded if the president’s 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) amnesty for illegal aliens survives the legal challenge to it currently before the Supreme Court. That program, if put into effect, is projected to put work permits in the hands of several million additional illegal aliens.

This undermining of the fiscal health of the social security system is an issue that should be addressed in the current presidential campaign. Candidates who support the DACA and the DAPA or a general amnesty program should be prepared to explain how they will maintain retirement benefits in the future while adding millions of new beneficiaries.

Recommended Reading:

Amnesty: Breaking the Social Security Bank

White House Report Confirms President Obama’s Executive Actions Will Harm American Workers, Taxpayers

Cost of Illegal Immigration Infographics

One Year Later, the 10 “Johnson Memos”

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On November 20, 2014, Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, at the direction of President Obama, released ten immigration policy memoranda (the “Johnson Memos”) that unilaterally changed U.S. immigration law by executive fiat. Combined, the memos are sweeping in the number of aliens they cover and the relief they provide – spanning from deferral from deportation and work authorization to a pathway to citizenship. They also create special  exceptions for certain workers seeking to enter the United States.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the sweeping executive actions on immigration President Obama announced last November 20th (collectively known as the Johnson Memos). While most people are familiar with DAPA and expanded DACA—and the Texas v. U.S. case challenging them—many of the other memos have received less attention. FAIR’s Government Relations team has issued a detailed analysis on all 10 Johnson Memos, including the current status of each of them. The report is available here.