Over the last eight years, millions of words have been written and thousands of hours broadcast about illegal immigrants who allegedly live in fear of deportation. Their personal stories in which they cite grave concern about their possible removal have been told and retold.
At the Democratic National Convention last month, for example, an 11-year-old girl, Karla Ortiz of Las Vegas, whose parents are in the United States illegally, said that she’s “scared” that at any moment her family could be deported.
Ironically, the child’s mother, Francisca Ortiz, appeared on stage with her in Philadelphia. The Homeland Security Department had issued Francisca a final order of deportation which, when ignored, becomes a felony.
According to immigration law, failure to comply should mean that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would turn Francisca Ortiz’s file over to its felony unit, where she would be considered a fugitive from justice and subject to arrest at any time. Yet, she had no compunction about appearing on national television before an audience of millions that included DHS officials, other law enforcement agents and high-ranking congressional representatives.
John Sandweg, former ICE director and a public servant who, based on his professional experience, knows the reality, told the Los Angeles Times that for most nonviolent illegal immigrants the removal probability is “close to zero,” and “just not likely to happen.”
If reporters would engage in basic fact checking from easily accessible government websites, they’d quickly see that Sandweg’s assessment is spot on. An ICE subsection known as Enforcement and Removal Operations, which has enjoyed a budget increase to $3.5 billion in 2015 from $2.75 billion in 2012 has nevertheless removed 62 percent fewer illegal aliens from the interior during those three years. The statistics are culled from DHS data provided to the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.
In fiscal year 2012, ICE deported nearly 200,000 illegal immigrants from the interior, but fewer than 70,000 in fiscal 2015. Keep in mind that the 70,000 represent only the tiniest percentage from an estimated population of 12 million illegal immigrants.
As for what happens on the border, President Barack Obama’s administration now counts individuals returned as deported, administrative sleight of hand that makes the deportation total appear higher than it actually is. Previous presidential administrations tallied removals from the interior and returns from the border as two different categories.
The question of who can and who cannot be removed or returned is so convoluted that ICE Director Sarah Saldaña admitted in congressional testimony that she, like her agents, carries an official flashcard that helps identify which illegal aliens are, according to Obama’s prosecutorial discretion guidelines, the highest priority for deportation.
Amazingly, excluded from deportation are criminal aliens found guilty of drunken driving, some sexual abuse offenses and some drug charges. Saldaña’s boss, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, described Obama’s priority system as “smart.”
In light of government statistics, no intelligent argument can be made that illegal immigrants — “run-of-the-mill” illegal immigrants as Sandweg described them — are truly fearful that they may be subject to deportation. The evidence proves overwhelmingly that an alien who simply blends into society has little if any chance of being targeted for removal.
— Joe Guzzardi is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.