A Rough Beginning: Trump’s “Week of Deportation” Wasn’t All That Special
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Recalibrating the American immigration system in an effort to decrease the entrance of illegal aliens into the United States was one of President Donald Trump’s foremost policy objectives during his campaign. Since the election, proposals such as a wall on the US-Mexico border and an expansion of border patrol agents have become the centerpiece of Trump’s legislative agenda.
During last year’s election, Trump criticized then-President Obama for not doing enough to curtail the flow of illegal aliens from the Mexico border when in fact, Obama deported more aliens, close to 2.5 million, than any other President in US history. During Obama’s first year in office, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security located 613,000 deportable aliens, averaging over 51,000 a month. It is important to realize that these illegal aliens were located, but not necessarily deported. For the purposes of this analysis, we will look at the theoretical rate at which Trump can deport immigrants and compare it to Obama’s.
In comparison, Trump has promised a similar number, 2-3 million, of deportations, limited to illegal aliens convicted of crimes during his term. On one hand, 2-3 million criminal aliens have not been identified in the United States. This figure, according to an annual Homeland Security Department report, is closer to 1.9 million. Taking this figure over Trump’s four year term, this averages 475,000 deportations per year, or close to 40,000 per month. This figure is over 20% less than those reached during the Obama administration. In other words, the deportations that Trump has promised will not be a large improvement over the current rate.
Moreover, 1.9 million is near the top of estimates for criminally-liable, deportable aliens. Reports from the Migration Policy Institute, the Pew Research Center, and the Congressional Research Service put the figure at under 1 million, which would amount to near 21,000 deportations per month during the Trump administration. Again, this figure ranks near the bottom of deportation rates over the past 8-10 years. Even when looking at the graph of actual deportations during the Obama administration, it becomes evident that for President Trump to surpass Obama’s deportation progress, he will have to institute a highly aggressive program and somehow find 200,000-300,000 more illegal alien criminals residing in the United States.
Source: Department of Homeland Security
Though it is still early in Trump’s first term, this discrepancy speaks volumes about the divergence of Trump’s agenda and actions. Though his executive order on immigration grants the Department of Homeland Security far more freedom in exercising its right to deport aliens, this power has not yet been exercised to its full potential, indicating that it may simply be a political tool.
As recently as last week, officials in the Trump administration and the President himself promised a “military” style deportation program, sparking further expectations of mass deportations. However, according to Trump’s current track record, this will likely not occur given the administration’s current deportation rates. Ultimately, the true impact of Trump’s immigration order will probably not be felt for at least another year. For all the rhetoric the Trump campaign has put out regarding illegal immigration, the Trump administration has not yet provided voters with the tangible evidence they need to deem this critical campaign promise fulfilled. But what is clear is that the next few months will be crucial in determining the effectiveness and extent of the President’s immigration policy.