The Obama administration deserves credit for increasing the number of deportations to a record level of nearly 400,000. However, the removal statistics compiled by the federal immigration authorities (in the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics), put that accomplishment into perspective. Deportations (referred to as removals in the Yearbook) also increased during the preceding administration. Between 2000 and 2008, removals increased by more than 90 percent. From 2008 to 2010, they increased by less than 8 percent – and they have remained at virtually the same level since 2009.
The surge in removals has stalled as Homeland Secretary Napolitano argues that her department’s capacity for removals has reached its maximum level. This argument has accompanied the administration’s efforts to curb law enforcement activities against illegal aliens who have not been convicted of serious criminal activity in the United States.