The House Judiciary Committee is accusing the Obama administration of "cooking the books" to achieve its record deportation numbers. [Immigration Officials Sue Obama for Work Permit Directive.]
President Barack Obama's administration has earned a reputation as having one of the toughest deportation policies in recent administrations. According to one ABC News report, the administration's average number of deportations was double that of President George W. Bush during his first term.
But the House committee says it has reviewed internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents, which reveal the administration has been misleading the public.
The committee is accusing the Obama administration of adding numbers from the Alien Transfer Exit Program, a policy that relocates immigrants who cross the border illegally to another location, in its annual removal numbers. [Opinion: Obama Has Right to Bypass Congress on Immigration.]
Critics say lumping the ATEP and annual deportation numbers together misrepresents the number of ICE removals because being removed through the ATEP program doesn't result in any penalties and ATEP immigrants can attempt re-entry multiple times a year.
"This means a single illegal immigrant can show up at the border and be removed numerous times in a single year and be counted each time as a removal," says Lamar Smith, the House Judiciary Committee chairman and a Republican from Texas. "When the numbers from this border patrol program are removed from this year's deportation data, it shows that removals are actually down nearly 20 percent from 2009."
The committee says that once you remove the ATEP numbers from ICE's annual deportation numbers, this year's numbers are 100,000 fewer, 14 percent lower than 2008, not higher as the administration has claimed. [See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]
"In a campaign season when administration officials have made a habbit of spinning their numbers to ignore their real record, it's not surprise that they are doing the same to their immigration record," Smith said.
ICE officials are discounting the committee's claims this morning, sticking by their numbers.
"These historic results reflect the success of the administration's strategy and are attributable, in part, to the unprecedented support ICE is providing to the border patrol along the southwest border," says ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein. "The combined efforts of ICE have created the most effective immigration enforcement effort in recent history."
Obama's deportation policy has attracted mixed reviews. A Pew Research Center poll out last year showed Latinos overwhelmingly disapproved of the administration's policy.
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