26 July 2010

Deportations At Record Levels

The Obama Administration is deporting more people than ever, about 400,000 last year, and stepping up audits of businesses that employ undocumented non-citizens. Workplace raids are down, but they never made up more than 1%-2% of the total.

Almost half of deportations are of non-citizens convicted of criminal offenses, some serious and others not. Even someone with a permanent resident alien (i.e. a non-citizen with a "green card") can be deported for many criminal offenses, no matter how long the person has lived in the United States.

The President himself is apparently surprised at the extent to which the deportations continue to rise.

Meanwhile, reports from some time ago indicated that undocumented immigrants returning to their home countries due to a lack of employment are outnumbering those who are entering the United States. The total number of undocumented immigrants in the United States fell by about one in ninth (about 1.3 million) in the first year of the financial crisis. There is no reason to think that the economy has turned around in a way that would change that trend, so the total now may be in the vicinity of 10 million out of a total population of 300 million or so.

The economy is having twice as much of an effect as deportations.

Increased enforcement is resulting in the deportation people who would be helped by pending legislation like the DREAM Act, which provides legal status and a path to citizenship to young adults who grew up in the United States and graduated from high school here, if they then go on to college or military service. Most Democrats support the bill, but it isn't clear that it has filibuster proof majorities behind it.

Border patrol and border fence construction also continues unimpeded, even though overstayed visas are a much more common means of entry into the United States than illegal border crossings.

In short, anti-immigration forces in Congress seem to be getting more of what they want than they did in any prior administration, but prospects for liberalizing legal immigration or providing a path to legal status for undocumented aliens, which was supposed to be the other half of immigration reform, appears to have hit a dead end.

1 comment:

Jude said...

Pafean's mom was deported in May. All of her children were born in the United States. She's never learned much English, but after all, it would be her third language after Cora and Spanish. I've known her since Pafean, who will be a senior in high school, was in 4th grade. She ruled her household of 5 boys with an iron hand. She never missed a parent-teacher conference. At each conference, to each teacher, she had me say this: "Let me know if my boy is ever disrespectful." Every teacher assured her that her boys were wonderful, helpful sons, and she'd say, "That's because I teach them to have respect." After she learned that our school offered a homework help program after school two days a week, it became a *mandatory* program for her two high school-age boys. She and her husband decided to begin the process to become citizens, and that's why she was deported. They violated some obscure rule on the path to citizenship. The father and Pafean stayed in the States and she took the younger kids back to Nayarit. Would writing a letter to a Congressman have helped stay her deportation? Would anything have helped? I asked to see the deportation letter so I could understand the reasons, but Pafean said it didn't really have the reasons. I decided my intervention wouldn't help. But I was fond of her. I admired her dedication to her family--e.g., she quit working her greenhouse job so she could keep a closer eye on the boys. In 4th grade, at that first conference I translated for, she learned that Pafean didn't know his basic math facts. She pointed at the sheets of math facts and said to him, "Pafean, how can this be? I don't know these [pointing to multiplication and division facts] but even *I* know these [pointing to addition and subtraction]." I'm not a proponent of illegal immigration, but gee whiz, why break up a strong family with a dedicated, devoted mother? Where's the logic in that?