House Committee Finds ICE Exaggerating Deportation Numbers; Will Press Stick to 'Record Number of Deportations' Meme?

August 27th, 2012 9:53 AM

An Associated Press report by Helen O'Neill time-stamped Saturday afternoon claims that "a record number of deportations means record numbers of American children being left without a parent — despite President Barack Obama's promise that his administration would focus on removing only criminals."

Perhaps the assertion about more parents being forced to leave their kids behind is true. But the "record number of deportations" meme -- a recurring Obama administration claim frequently parroted by the press, despite Obama's other unilateral moves towards de facto amnesty -- is apparently a load of rubbish, based on a review of detailed records by the House Judiciary Committee noted by the Daily Caller's Caroline May on Saturday morning (bolds are mine):

New documents reveal Obama administration ‘cooking the books’ to achieve record deportation numbers

Internal documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee show that the Obama administration has been “cooking the books” in order to reach their “record” number of deported illegal immigrants, chairman Rep. Lamar Smith said Friday.

Based on the internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) documents, the number of removals are actually down, the opposite of what the administration has been claiming.

According to the committee’s review, in 2011 officials at the Department of Homeland Security began including the number of individuals removed through the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) in its annual removal numbers. ATEP is a program which moves apprehended illegal immigrants to another point along the border.

The committee chair claims that counting those individuals as removals is misleading because there are no repercussions for illegal immigrants who are deported through the program, and they can simply try to re-enter.

“It is dishonest to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border as ICE removals,” Smith explained in a statement. “And these ‘removals’ from the Border Patrol program do not subject the illegal immigrant to any penalties or bars for returning to the U.S. This means a single illegal immigrant can show up at the border and be removed numerous times in a single year — and counted each time as a removal.”

... (After subtracting the ATEPs) in 2011 the estimated 397,000 deportations become approximately 360,000, and the 2012 removals to date drop from about 334,000 to an estimated 263,000, according to the committee estimates. Projections for number of people to be deported by end of the year drops from 400,000 to 315,000 removals.

The new estimates mean that this year the Obama administration’s deportation record is 14 percent below 2008 (which was 369,000) and 19 percent below 2009 (which was 389,000).

The chairman blasted the administration after the discovery, charging the president and administration officials with falsifying their record to meet political ends.

Update, 10 a.m.: The 315,000 projection for 2012 is well below the roughly 359,000 deportations reported in 2008, the last year you-know-who was in the White House. Record, schmecord.

In a complete non-surprise, it appears that no one outside of the center-right blogosphere has taken note of the Committee's finding or May's Daily Caller story. Google News searches at about 9:15 ET this morning for August 25-27 on ["daily caller" deportation] and ["lamar smith" deportation] (each typed exactly as indicated, sorted by date) returned only seven and five results, respectively. Of the total of twelve, one is before the specified date range (bug alert to Google) and two are on another topic. Of the remaining nine, three are Daily Caller items, and none of the remaining six are from establishment press outlets.

So will the Associated Press and other legacy media outlets continue to pretend that deportations are at "record" levels? Sadly, the answer is probably "yes," partially out of laziness (it's an "everybody knows" meme, so reporters won't re-check) and in some cases because of political agendas.

If this kind of book-cooking were happening in a Republican or conservative administration ... oh, you know the rest.

Cross-posted at