Obama did not deport more illegal aliens than any other President

For as long as I have been in the US, and I arrived in 2010, I have heard people say that Obama deported more illegal aliens than any other President. The people who say that are usually liberals, progressives or libertarians who either want to criticize Obama for deporting so many immigrants or, thinking they are oh so very smart, blast conservatives for supporting Trump. I have lost count of how many times I have heard someone explain that people who support Trump are clueless, because they don’t even realize that on immigration Obama was already doing what they want their champion to do. Except that, as is often the case when the sophisticates castigate the proles for being clueless, it is they who are clueless.

Jessica Vaughn has a very good piece in which she explains why this is nonsense. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll just tell you the gist of it. The number of deportations has not really increased under Obama, it’s just that his administration changed the thermometer, as it were. Before 2009, people who were deported at or near the border just weren’t included in ICE numbers, but this changed under Obama, which mechanically increased the number of deportations pretty sharply. But when you look only at interior deportations, you see that they actually decreased rather dramatically under Obama.

As John Sandweg, who was until recently director of ICE under Obama, said to the Los Angeles Times: “If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero — it’s just highly unlikely to happen.” In case you’re wondering, he is absolutely correct, as one can easily verify. In 2016, 65,332 aliens were deported from the interior, all but 5,014 were criminals. (Not that Obama’s administration was particularly harsh on criminal aliens either. As the Boston Globe, a well known fascist newspaper, revealed a few months ago, ICE released thousands of criminal aliens — including many violent criminals — under Obama and lied about it.) Even if we accept Trump’s claim that there could be up to 3 million illegal aliens with a criminal record, which is dubious, it still leaves 8 million who don’t, since according to the Pew Research Center there were approximately 11 million people who lived in the US illegally in 2014. Since only 5,014 of them were deported last year, the probability that one of them was going to be deported in 2016 was approximately 0.06%. That’s not exactly what you would expected by listening to the stories about how people who are in the US illegally lived under constant threat of being deported…

As Vaughn explains, this confusion about the number of deportations was most likely deliberate, as it was a way to protect Obama’s lax immigration policy from criticism by people who prefer a restrictionist approach by depicting it as harsh. It’s also significant that, while for years almost nobody in the press explained that Obama’s figures were misleading, now that Trump threatens to put in place a truly restrictionist immigration policy it’s starting to come out. I’m sure that some journalists just didn’t know that it was bullshit, because most journalists are utterly clueless, but I also have no doubt that many of them knew it and were keeping their mouth shut because they knew it was serving the pro-immigration agenda. After all, both Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, who were Secretary of Homeland Security under Obama, admitted publicly that ICE’s figures were misleading, so it’s not as if they many of them didn’t know…

EDIT: I got some pushback from a commenter over at Slate Star Codex, who makes some good points, so I figured I would add a link to his comment so you can read it.

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