Deportations of Undocumented Migrants Slowed in 2019: Report

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Photo courtesy Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Despite the hard-line approach to undocumented immigrants promised by the White House, Secure Communities (SC) deportations trended downward in the past year, said a new report.

As of April 2019, the latest month for which data is available, the number of SC “removals” was tallied at 6,152, compared to 7,456 in May 2018, said the report done by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

August 2012, during the Obama administration, saw the highest number of deportees over the eight-year period covered in the table by TRAC, with over 8,000 removals.



“The height of each bar in the table reflects the actual number of SC deportations each month,” said TRAC, “while the superimposed line shows the moving three-month average that smooths out month-to-month fluctuations.”


The data came from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removal-by-removal records on SC.

Not all the details of the deportations, however, may have become public. TRAC said its co-directors have filed a lawsuit against ICE, challenging the agency’s “withholding of additional details on each of these ICE removals.”

SC, originally launched under President George W. Bush, is a program in which “millions upon millions” of fingerprint records sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation are moved along to ICE, said TRAC.

After the records are moved along, “the immigration agency issues ‘detainers’ for immigrants that ICE wants the local organizations to hold and then turn over to it,” explained TRAC.

The report goes on to say, “Even if a local law enforcement agency has a policy of not cooperating with immigration officials, ICE can use these fingerprint records to alert them to where to look for these individuals and try to arrest them through other methods.”

A growing list of [entities] have entered into cooperative agreements with ICE under its 287g program to permit local law enforcement agencies to perform some immigration enforcement functions themselves,” said TRAC.

However, TRAC noted that cooperation with immigration enforcement officials can vary by place in the U.S. A common example of a jurisdiction going another way: the enactment of a “sanctuary” law, said the report.

California and Texas have the largest estimated populations of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., but are “emblematic” as places that have taken “opposite paths,” said the report.

California has several jurisdictions that have balked at ICE cooperation, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The state recorded a “precipitous decline” in monthly removals, from a peak of 3,000 in March 2011 to just 744 in April 2019, the report found.

Removals slowly grew when the Obama Administration set out to rebuild trust with local communities under the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), said TRAC. When President Trump took office, deportations in California returned to around 1,000 per month, the report added.

Texas deportation numbers have stayed fairly level at about 2,000 per month—though still slightly lower than the peak recorded in that state during the Obama administration.

An interactive tool to explore the deportation numbers in each state, broken down by county, is available here.

The complete TRAC report, with tables, can be accessed here.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern Brian Demo.

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