Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas, Immigrants! You're Deported!


¿Puedo presentar el Sr. desinformado?

Trumpf, who doesn't seem capable of seeing a world that isn't centered on himself, has been claiming on twitter Friday and Saturday that Obama is deporting immigrants because of Trumpian pressure and that Obama hasn't deported enough immigrants. His low-info, nativist supporters eagerly lap it up. But, as usual, the facts don't bear out his claims.

On June 16, when NY real estate swindler and reality TV clown Donald Trump made his campaign announcement-- in front of an audience of paid extras-- he made some specious claims about Mexican immigrants that won over the naturists, xenophobes and Know Nothings that have lurked on the fringes of establishment politics since the early 1800s. "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." When questioned about it on Fox News a couple of weeks later, the always self-aware Herr Trumpf replied, "I'm not a racist. I don't have a racist bone in my body."

Reality-- outside of TV reality shows-- is not part of the Trumpf worldview. Chutzpah has replaced it. Statistics show that first-generation immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans and that non-citizens make up a smaller percentage of the inmate population in state prisons and jails, compared to their percentage to the total U.S. population. 3.3% of native born males are in prison, while 1.6% of immigrant men in the same 18-40 year old age group are.

Two months before The Donald emerged as Herr Trumpf Nora Caplan-Bricker compared the Bush and Obama records on deportations, just after the deportation mark of the Obama administration had passed the 2 million mark. Immigration advocates were claiming Obama was deporting more people than Bush had and nativists were howling for more deportations.
Under Bush, the majority of immigrants that the U.S. sent home were simply “returned.” Nobody took their fingerprints or put a permanent mark on their immigration records. Instead, U.S. authorities put them on buses and sent them back across the border. Between 2001 and 2008, there were over 8.3 million of these informal “returns,” according to the Department of Homeland Security. There were, by contrast, just 2 million “removals.” Those are the more formal deportations-- the ones that go through some form of individual review, with an officer if not a judge, and become part of deportees’ permanent records.

But in the second half of the Bush administration, DHS decided to up the number of “removals” and limit the number of “returns.” The government hoped to deter immigrants from sneaking back into the country by making it clear that the U.S. knew who they were-- and could punish them more harshly if they showed up again. Under Obama, DHS has stuck with this policy. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of deportations and informal returns was roughly the same-- about 1.6 million each. Add up all the relevant numbers, you’ll see removals are on track to end up higher under Obama than Bush (Lind’s point in Vox) but that removals plus returns will end up higher under Bush than Obama.

...And then there’s the broader question about how well the numbers reflect what the Obama administration is actually trying to do. The immigration courts have a backlog of 363,239 immigration cases-- all people the government is attempting to deport-- according to TRAC, a data analysis project at Syracuse University. Meanwhile, the U.S. has poured money into blockading the border, making the trek more costly and dangerous, and the Mexican economy is doing better, relative to the U.S. economy. This reduces the incentive to leave. In this light, any apples-to-apples comparison of Bush's policies with Obama's is meaningless.

During the 2012 election, a right-wing, pro-Romney group paid for the ad above, which they ran in Nevada to undermine Obama's lead among Hispanics. (Obama won Nevada 52-46% and carried 70% of the Hispanic vote there.) The ad's point is that in his first term Obama was deporting more Latinos than Bush had. Politifact rated the ad Half True because there had been a "significant jump in deportations under Obama. Measured by the monthly frequency of deportation, Obama’s numbers are significantly higher than Bush’s were, even as the estimated population of illegal immigrants was falling."

Meanwhile Obama's Christmastime announcement of more deportations seems pretty shocking and a problem for Democrats trying to rally Hispanic voters. Predictably, the move isn't getting any plaudits from nativist groups and almost seems designed to hurt Hillary's electoral chances.
“We would love to believe DHS is serious about sending a different message to the rest of the world that our borders are not open, but we won’t believe it until we see it,” said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which lobbies for curbs on immigration. He called the plan “far too little and too late.”

The George W. Bush Administration conducted high-profile raids at meatpacking plants and other work sites to round up undocumented immigrants. But the prospect of armed agents entering homes across the country would be unprecedented, immigration experts said. It also would mark the first large-scale operation mounted specifically against Central Americans.

“It’s going to be a nightmare,” said Susan Weishar, who studies migration at the Jesuit Social Research Institute in New Orleans.

Such an operation conjures images of federal agents prying Elian Gonzalez, then a child, out of the arms of his relatives in Miami to return him to his father in Cuba in 2000, said Ms. Weishar, who referred to the Obama plan as “Elian Gonzalez on steroids.”

Two Democratic candidates split publicly with the Obama administration. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was “disturbed” by news of the raids, while former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said the idea was “wrong.”

The campaign of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, had a more measured comment, saying she has “real concerns” about the plan. Mrs. Clinton previously has expressed support for deporting some Central Americans.

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