‘Inhumane,’ ‘Indefensible,’ ‘Criminal’ DHS Deportation Plan Removes Only 77 Central American Aliens

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

March 1, 2016
Central American Immigrant Population in the United States, 1980-2013
Data from U.S. Census Bureau 2006, 2010 and 2013 American Community Surveys and Campbell J. Gibson and Kay Jung, “Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-Born Population of the United States: 1850-2000” (Working Paper No. 81, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C., Feb 2006). Available online here.

In December, immigration advocates were in a tizzy over the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that it would begin to deport certain Central American aliens. Some of the adjectives used to lambast the program: inhumane, indefensible and criminal.

Activists gathered outside the White House to protest the Obama administration’s plan, and threatened to withhold their votes from supportive legislators. Nevertheless, during the first January weekend, 121 families were detained, mostly in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.

But from those 121, only 77 were removed. So from the hundreds of thousands of Central American families that have illegally come to the U.S. since 2014, including tens of thousands unaccompanied minors, a mere 77 have actually been deported as part of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s highly publicized year-end crackdown.

In what may be the political understatement of this or any other year in recent memory, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said about the 77: “It’s a relatively small number.”

The scant number of deported aliens and Hoyer’s observation give credence to what former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Sandweg told the Los Angeles Times for its story “High Deportation Figures Are Misleading:”

“If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero – it’s just highly unlikely to happen.”

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