DHS corrects report that overstated ICE deportations under Obama
By Spencer S. Hsu and N.C. Aizenman
Months after reporting that the number of illegal immigrants removed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement increased 47 percent during President Obama's first year in office, the Department of Homeland Security on Monday corrected the record, saying the actual increase in those deported and "voluntary departures" was 5 percent.
The 387,790 illegal immigrants removed by ICE in fiscal 2009 was still a record, as cited in the department's Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Financial Report, which was dated Nov. 16.
A DHS spokesman said the report erred by lumping together in the 2009 figure the number of illegal immigrants deported with those permitted to leave on their own power rather than being physically removed by ICE, an option called "voluntary departure."
Including both categories, ICE removed 387,790 in illegal immigrants in the year ending Sept. 30, 2009, compared with 369,221 in 2008 -- a 5 percent increase.
Counting only those deported by ICE, the total grew 13 percent, from 264,541 in 2008 to 298,401 in 2009.
In a statement, the department said, "We are working with the Chief Financial Officer to clarify this information."
The error came to light Monday when grass-roots immigrant rights groups assailed President Obama's immigration policies, calling his record on deportations harsher than that of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Separately, ICE reported that as of Feb. 1, four months into fiscal 2010, total removals are running at a rate 20 percent below last year, or 17 percent lower counting only deportations.
A DHS spokesman said figures "inherently fluctuate month to month."
Matt Chandler added, "This administration is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that focuses first on those dangerous criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, not sweeps or raids to target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately."
Spencer S. Hsu and N.C. Aizenman
March 8, 2010; 11:08 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , National Security
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