Politics

Obama Has Been Deporter-In-Chief, Even If He Doesn't Want To Be

| by Will Hagle

From the beginning, President Obama has been depicted by his political enemies as a socialist. Right-wing media portrays him as a leader who will go to any lengths to impose his liberal agenda. ‘Socialist’ is an easy label for a politician with progressive ideas for the country, but Obama has remained faithful to the democratic process. 

At times, that faithfulness has led to disappointment. Legislation proposed during his presidency has been stalled, blocked or altered by an inefficient, partisan Congress. Working its way through the country’s democratic structure, Obama’s health care reform plan became the Affordable Care Act. 

Another easy accusation is to label Obama the worst president in terms of illegal immigration, the Deporter-In-Chief. That’s the way media outlets on both sides of the political spectrum see it: Obama has deported more people than any of his predecessors, but he's also been too lax on illegal immigration in the nation's interior.

A Washington Post article discredits these contradictory reports, claiming a change in the language used to discuss immigration policies (i.e., “removal” and “return” rather than “deportation”) is what leads to statistics with confusing results. No matter what you call the act of forcing an individual to leave the nation, however, the numbers still paint a picture of Obama’s immigration legacy. 

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In its annual report on immigration enforcement, the U.S. Department of Homeland claimed to have removed a total of 438,421 individuals during the 2013 fiscal year, up roughly 20,000 from 2012 and 50,000 from 2011. Those numbers bring the total number to more than 2 million throughout Obama’s presidency. Whether he wants to be or not (and regardless of whether it’s the correct language being used), he is certainly something along the lines of a deporter-in-chief. 

To voters who supported the candidate in 2008 or have listened to his various speeches throughout the years, that picture was unforeseeable and almost  unbelievable Obama obviously supports an immigration policy that is fair and equitable to those who have been living in the country — especially children — under illegal circumstances for a prolonged amount of time. 

Obama himself has named several reasons why immigration reform has yet to be accomplished during his time in office. He blamed Sen. John McCain flip-flopping on the DREAM Act to appease GOP members despite supporting immigration reform prior to Obama’s election. He blamed the economic crisis, which unexpectedly became the most important issue of his early presidency. Below is an excerpt from a 2012 town hall speech, published by the Washington Post.

Immigrants apprehended immediately or shortly after crossing the border are accounted for in the statistics that lead to Obama’s labeling as deporter-in-chief. Since 1997, after the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act gave more deportation power to ICE and Border Control Agents, here’s also an increasing trend in deportations taking place around the U.S.-Mexico border.

Obama’s careful, calculated response to the influx of illegal immigrants and children earlier this year demonstrates the supportive measures he takes in terms of immigration when given the opportunity. The mass border crossing was arguably the biggest immigration crisis , and Obama approached it in the humane and logical way that had been expected of him prior to the 2008 election. Another significant demonstration of his continued support for immigration reform occurred in 2012, when he exercised his executive power to demand that immigration enforcement officers stop removing immigrants that match certain criteria of the DREAM Act, despite that piece of legislation’s repeated failure in Congress. 

When established trends in immigration policy are allowed to continue — as they do in the face of GOP-led blockades against any true reform — the deportation statistics rise. As president, Obama is ultimately responsible for his immigration record. But he still sees true reform resulting from . He’s already stated that he won’t use his executive authority towards immigration goals until after the midterm elections in November, fearing his actions could jeopardize Democratic seats in the Senate. Obama excels at the political game — especially one that’s been constantly fighting against him for the past six years — but with only two years left in office he needs to realize that his grandiose ideas for the country’s future simply cannot be achieved via the democratic process in the time he expected.