On October 18, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that the agency had deported a record number of undocumented immigrants: 396,906 foreign nationals in Fiscal Year 2011. ICE stated that this included the largest number of criminal immigrants removed at nearly 55 percent, "an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals from FY 2008, and the largest number of criminal aliens removed in agency history."
As The New York Times reported:
"We came into office focused on creating a smart enforcement system by setting a rational system of priorities, and we have done that," John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said on Tuesday. "We said criminal offenders would be our highest priority, and lo and behold, they are the highest priority."
The Times further reported that the deportation program has come under intense criticism by Latinos and pro-immigration activists. The article highlighted a study that found that the program "has led disproportionately to the removal of Latino immigrants and to arrests by immigration authorities of hundreds of United States citizens."
In a post today at National Review Online, Mark Krikorian brushed away ICE's numbers, calling the announcement a "hollow deportation boast." His contention? The "largest number in the agency's history" "is a lot" but it isn't big enough. "[W]hen you look at history," Krikorian argued, "the 'largest number' is only about 1,700 more than two years ago." He continued:
The Obama administration, as a matter of policy, refuses to even ask Congress for the resources needed to deport any more than 400,000 people. Now, 400,000 deportations (of illegal aliens, of course, but also of legal aliens who made themselves deportable because of crimes) is a lot, but it can easily be doubled; I remember one of the top people at INS in the Clinton years telling me that the 114,000 removed in 1997 was a really, really big number and sufficient proof of their seriousness about immigration enforcement.
Krikorian seemed to be echoing Rep. Lamar Smith, who reportedly stated on October 18: "The Obama administration continues to inflate its deportation numbers. ... [I]n reality they are enacting amnesty through inaction."
OBAMA: We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working at the border. I've deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California. We have forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries. (Applause.) And for the first time -- for the first time we're screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs that are coming north. (Applause.)
So, here's the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we've done. But even though we've answered these concerns, I've got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.
OBAMA: You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics.
Right-wing media quickly attacked the president, accusing him of mocking conservatives' complaints about the border. Yet Obama had his facts straight. And he seemed to know they wouldn't appease Republicans or anti-immigrants whose only solution for illegal immigration is deporting all undocumented immigrants and their children and erecting an impassable border.
So it looks like Obama was right all along: "Even though we've answered these concerns, I've got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time. ... They'll never be satisfied."