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Bloggings on Deportation and Removal

by Matthew Kolken

Dispelling ICE Misinformation about Deportation Priorities

I just stumbled upon a quote from ICE spokeman Vincent Picard reiterating the party line that the Obama administration "has adopted commonsense policies” by focusing enforcement efforts on deporting individuals with convictions for violent crimes.


TRAC Immigration (and anyone else with a pulse) begs to differ.

TRAC analyzed available records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request covering deportation (generic) proceedings filed in Immigration Courts. 

This is what they found:

During FY 2011 ICE initiated deportation proceedings against 188,770 individuals who were charged only with violating immigration rules. This amounted to 83.4 percent of the total cases. The proportion charged only with violating immigration rules was up slightly over levels in FY 2010 when 81.9 percent were so charged.

TRAC also found that the number of removal proceedings instituted against individuals with criminal grounds of removal has been steadily declining throughout the past year:

  • 15.8 percent were charged with engaging in criminal activity during the first quarter period (October - December 2010);
  • 15.1 percent during the second quarter (January - March 2011); 
  • 14.9 percent during the third quarter (April - June 2011); and
  • 13.8 percent during the fourth quarter (July - September 2011). 
  • The average rate across the four quarters for FY 2011 was 14.9 percent.

 TRAC put together the following charts to summarize the data:

Table 1. Deportation Proceedings Initiated in Immigration Courts by ICE,
October - December 2011
Most Serious Charge by Category by Type
Total Individuals Charged 39,331  
National Security / Terrorism 4  
Terrorism   0
National Security   4
Criminal 5,493  
Aggravated Felons   1,300
Other Criminal   4,193
Immigration 32,957  
Entry Without Inspection   24,073
Other Immigration   8,884

* FY 2012 counts based on EOIR records as of 12/31/2011 can be expected to rise slightly once late reporting is incorporated. Total includes miscellaneous or incomplete charge information.

Table 2. Trends in Charges Brought by ICE in Immigration Courts
Most Serious Charge Percent of Total (First Quarter)
FY 2010 Q1 FY 2011 Q1 FY 2012 Q1
Total Individuals Charged* 100% 100% 100%
National Security / Terrorism 0.03% 0.02% 0.01%
Criminal 17.3% 15.9% 14.0%
Immigration Only 81.2% 82.2% 83.8%

ICE is blocking the release of immigration enforcement data covering all individuals who had been arrested, detained, charged, or deported from the country since FY 2005.  The stonewalling undoubtedly is to prevent us from being able to dispel the misinformation and propaganda that is being spewed by mouthpieces of the agency for political gain.  

It is an election year.

Here is TRAC's press release that summarizes the lengths that the Obama Administration is going to hide the facts.

Syracuse, N.Y. — On January 4 the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) appealed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) concerning its response to TRAC's previous request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for case-by-case information covering all individuals who had been arrested, detained, charged, or deported from the country since FY 2005 (see TRAC's January 4 statement).

In our FOIA appeal, TRAC asked the agency to provide all of the information we had requested almost two years before and noted that what ICE had produced showed that many fewer individuals had been apprehended, deported or detained by the agency than had been claimed in its official statements. While not expressing an opinion about whether the discrepancies meant that ICE's public claims were grossly exaggerated or that it had improperly withheld records, we requested a formal investigation be instituted, perhaps by the Office of Inspector General.

On January 6, we received ICE's highly critical statement attacking Syracuse University's TRAC and the facts laid out in our appeal.

ICE's statement — while couched as criticisms of TRAC's "intellectual integrity" — did in essence acknowledge that TRAC's analysis was correct: the data released by the agency accounted for far fewer apprehensions than the agency stated it had carried out. That statement, however, did not explain why ICE's FOIA Office had earlier claimed that data to be complete. And ICE has not yet released the alleged missing data for the period in question. Thus, the public is still in the dark as to whether the agency actually has records that would back up its claims1.

I implore you to consider donating to TRAC.  They are leading the charge in the fight for truth and accountability.  Something this President promised to do when he was campaigning for office.

How things "Change."

About The Author

Matthew Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.