The Trump administration's Department of Justice has touted the number of undocumented immigrants ordered for deportation or voluntary removal from the U.S., asserting that these statistics indicate a return to the rule of law. However, data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement has revealed that the Trump administration is on track to actually deport fewer undocumented immigrants in 2017 than in any year of former President Barack Obama's tenure.
On Aug. 8, the DOJ released statistics from the Executive Office of Immigration Review. The data indicated that the number of court orders for deportations had risen since 2016, the Washington Examiner reports.
Between Feb. 1 and July 31, roughly 50,000 undocumented immigrants were designated for deportation by a judge, marking a 28 percent increase as compared to the same timeframe in 2016. These court orders do not necessarily mean that the undocumented immigrants in question have already been removed from the U.S.
Meanwhile, roughly 57,000 undocumented immigrants agreed to voluntarily leave the country, an increase of 14.5 percent compared to the same timeframe in 2016.
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Since Trump assumed office, the DOJ has added 54 more immigration judges to hear deportation cases. The DOJ heralded this data as a "return to the rule of law."
Trump has made immigration a key priority of his administration. On Jan. 25, the president signed two executive orders that called for the construction of a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, mandated the hiring of more border patrol agents and immigration judges, and expanded the criteria for undocumented immigrants to become priority targets for ICE, according to ABC News.
On the same day that the DOJ touted its advancements on immigration enforcement, ICE released data indicating that the Trump administration was carrying out deportations at a far slower pace than the Obama administration.
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Between Feb. 1 and June 30, roughly 84,000 undocumented immigrants were successfully deported from the country. This means that the Trump administration deported roughly 16,900 undocumented immigrants per month during its first five months. If the Trump administration continues this pace through Sept. 30, it will deport fewer people in the 2017 fiscal year than the Obama administration had during any year, Politico reports.
In 2012, the Obama administration deported roughly 34,000 undocumented immigrants per month. In 2016, the Obama administration's slowest year for deportations, roughly 20,000 undocumented immigrants were deported per month.
John Sandweg, who served as an ICE acting director during the Obama administration, asserted that the Trump administration was deporting undocumented immigrants at a slower pace because it had aggressively increased the number of ICE detentions.
"The courts are more paralyzed than ever before ... When you go out and you arrest a whole bunch of people willy-nilly, [the judge] has got to fill his docket time hearing those arguments," Sandweg said.
The Trump administration plans to add 75 more immigration judges during the 2018 fiscal year.