Internal documents obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies reveal that last year Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released 68,000 criminally convicted illegal immigrants, a report that undermines the Obama administration’s repeated claims that it was focusing its "record-breaking" deportation efforts on those illegal aliens convicted of crimes.
As The Daily Caller reports, though ICE reported nearly 722,000 encounters with illegal immigrants last year, officers only filed immigration charges against less than 195,000 (27%) of them.
Now, according to the internal documents obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group which advocates for stricter immigration enforcement, of the reported 193,000 “criminal aliens” ICE encountered last year, ICE officers only targeted 125,000 (65%) for deportation, allowing 68,000 criminally charged illegal aliens to be released.
The Center's report explains the reason ICE officers have charged and deported so few, the “administration’s narrowly defined criteria”:
According to ICE personnel, the vast gap between the number of encounters reported and the number of aliens put on the path to removal exists because officers are not permitted to file charges against aliens who do not fall into the administration’s narrowly defined criteria for enforcement, regardless of the criminal charges or the circumstances in which the alien was identified.
The report shows that since the Obama administration’s “prosecutorial discretion” was first enacted, ICE arrests have plummeted by 40%. This flies in the face of the administration’s claim of a “record-breaking” deportations, a claim which the administration has made only through taking credit for Border Patrol removals, an unprecedented method of counting deportations:
The Obama administration and anti-enforcement activist groups have tried to portray the number of departures as “record-breaking’ and indicative of robust immigration enforcement. They have tried to support this claim by showing that the number of departures credited to ICE is higher than ever before. However, an independent analysis of ICE records obtained in a lawsuit showed that ICE was able to achieve these “record” departures only because the agency was taking credit for removing a large number of individuals who were apprehended by the Border Patrol. Such cases made up the majority of ICE’s reported deportations in 2013, but they had never been counted that way in previous administrations.
The study’s author, Jessica Vaughan, calls the administration’s “deliberate obstruction” of immigration enforcement a threat to the “well-being of American communities” and calls on Congress to investigate the impact on the administration’s discretionary policies.