The Obama administration boasts that arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border have dropped on its watch. But figures cited by the administration are based on “biased statistics,” according to the president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing more than 17,000 U.S. border agents and personnel.
“Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has traveled around the country saying that the border is more secure than it has ever been,” union leader George McCubbin said at a July 26 press briefing hosted by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). “We do not believe that to be the case. … She relied on the information and statistics provided to her by those with an interest in having them reflect whatever position the administration wants them to reflect.”
Indeed, late last year Heritage’s Jessica Zuckerman described how the Obama administration inflated its deportation numbers by including “voluntary removals” in the deportation statistics. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton boasted of the removal of 396,906 illegal aliens in fiscal 2011 – the largest number of illegal aliens in the agency’s history. Yet as Zuckerman explains, this number includes individuals who agree to be returned to their home countries counted in the same way as those who are ordered to be deported by the courts.
As House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) explained, “A single illegal immigrant can show up at the border and be voluntarily returned numerous times in one year – and be counted each time as a removal.” Ultimately, this practice serves to artificially inflating the administration’s deportation numbers.
Making matters worse, in recent years the Obama administration has also systemically taken action to weaken internal immigration enforcement, including the reduction of worksite raids, an emphasis on criminal deportations, and an increase in the use of prosecutorial discretion. Similarly, the administration has also moved to kill one of America’s most successful interior enforcement programs, the 287(g) program, which allows allowed local police to act on behalf of ICE and enforce federal immigration laws.
In response, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council took the highly unusual step of issuing a unanimous “vote of no confidence” against ICE director Morton. Sessions further elaborated by saying that there is a need for renewed reference of the rule of law.
It’s time that “the lawlessness must end,” Sessions explained. “All Americans, immigrant and native born, will have a better future if our nation remains unique in the world for its special reverence for the rule of law and fairness in our immigration system.”
Melanie Wilcox and Maura Cremin are members of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.