Where Are the Facts on Illegal Immigration?

Graph showing deportations increased under Obama over Bush

Deportations under Bush and Obama

During the December 10th Republican debate, Governor Rick Perry, when asked about what distinguished his stance on illegal immigration, made the following remarks:

[Under my administration . . .] You will not see a catch and release program like this administration has today th– where people who are caught who are illegally in this country, and because they haven’t been (RUSTLING) caught in a violent situation, they’re released. Released into the general population. That’s the problem that we’ve got in this country. (Transcript provided by ABC News)

These remarks, of course, make it appear that the Obama administration is soft on illegal immigration. But Perry’s claim contradicted what I knew I had read sometime earlier. Indeed, back in October,  it was reported in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The New York Times, and many others that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau deported record numbers of immigrants illegally in the United States for the third year straight. In 2011, it was reported that nearly 400,000 immigrants were deported. Of these, over 216,00 had criminal records.

In reviewing these data, I quickly learned that every right wing Web site on the net is claiming that the Obama administration is lying about the numbers simply to make it appear that it is not soft on illegal immigration. In contrast, pro-immigrant Web sites are angered by the data, which they believe to be accurate and constitute a betrayal by the administration that came to office promising immigration reform.

The Christian Science Monitor on December 1, 2011 ran a story in which the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) run by Syracuse University suggests that the aggregate number of deportees in 2011 (nearly 400,000) appears correct, but that the number of deportees with criminal records (216,000) is likely an extreme exaggeration.

It appears that every point of view has its own facts in this matter. And for every set of facts there is a separate truth.

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