A ‘Deportation Force’ is coming, the Donald’s own numbers prove it.
Numbers can often be our best friends when we want to understand how policy may or may not play out and here’s the thing, from the numbers that are available to us so far, there is a ‘deportation force’ coming, whether we want to call it one or not.
In his most recent 60 Minutes interview, president-elect Donald Trump responded, “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, killers…could be two to three million…and we’re getting them out of this country” when asked of his immigration policy plans.
The only problem? There aren’t that many and there probabaly never were to begin with. Let me explain.
Using data from a 2001 report from the Department of Justice, the U.S Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in a budget request in 2012 (yes, they used data over a decade old) said that “ICE estimates that 1.94 million removable criminal aliens are in the United States today.” (Source) This sounds a lot like Trump is correct, with him saying 2–3 million and ICE estimating 2 million, but this is where wording, as any lawyer will tell you, is everything.
“Removable criminal aliens,” as seen in the ICE budget request, is a moniker for anyone who is an immigrant, legal or illegal, facing any grounds for removal. Which means that of the 2 million “removable criminal aliens” in the ICE estimate, there are assuredly less that are also illegal aliens. Not only that, but the 2012 ICE budget request was specifically made in order to find & remove these criminal aliens and Congress gave them the money they requested. And make no mistake, while Obama is considered “loose” on illegal immigration, his administration has actually been responsible for the removal of 1.6 million immigrants from 2009–2012, vastly more than any other President in history. (Source)
If we follow Obama’s trends from 2009–2012 and extrapolate them to 2012–2016, of the 2 million “removable criminal aliens” that ICE estimated lived in the USA in 2012, the vast majority of them have already been deported. This suggests that Donald Trump’s target is not illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, but any and all illegal immigrants, and so we say hello to a deportation force.
*But they’re illegal, that already is a crime, kick them out!* goes the argument, and yet this “just enforce the law” argument would ignore the millions of people who contribute tens of hundreds of millions of dollars to the American economy, do jobs other American citizens have no desire to do at the wages offered for those jobs, and the simple fact that, illegal or legal, immigration actually lowers crime, on average. (Source)
The Pew Research Center and the Department of Homeland Security estimate that the total number of unauthorized immigrants in the country right now to be somewhere close to 11 million people. Of these 11 million, 52% (5.7 million) are of Mexican origin and the remaining 48% a scattering of people originating from Asia, Central America, and Africa. There is absolutely no doubt that the “target” of Trumps policy would be those of Mexican origin.
What makes this particularly concerning is Trump’s hiring of Kris Kobach to his transition team. This is the same Kris Kobach who came up with the “show me your papers” state law proposals Arizona and other states have tried to pass which would undoubtedly target and profile those of Mexican descent. The very same Kris Kobach who wanted to give CITIZEN children of illegal immigrants “special birth cirtificates” so that in the future it would be easier to identify and strip their citizenship for any reason the federal government saw fit.
Given that crime rates are lower for immigrants than native citizens (source), perhaps it’s time we focus on the real threat to our country: xenophobia, racism, sexism, LGBTQ persecution and the billion-dollar corporations who bring illegal immigrants into this country and exploit them for cheap labor (looking at you, Mr. Trump).
Make no mistake, Mr. Trump’s plan combined with his transiton team member choice Kris Kobach suggests a ‘deporation force’ of sorts, whatever we want to call it.
Author’s Note: Immense thank you to S. Reddy for editing and idea help.