This is pretty funny. Republicans are so desperate to paint President Obama as a soft-border friend to the undocumented, they’re trying to redefine the word “deportation.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is accusing Obama and his administration of having “fabricated” and “falsified their record to achieve their so-called historic deportation numbers…illegitimately adding over 100,000 removals to their deportation figures for the past two years.”
Smith, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, points out the Obama administration has decided to include removals under a new border security program called the Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) in the official deportation statistics beginning in 2011, citing internal documents his committee has recently obtained. He believes this practice is illegitimate because “there are no penalties or bars attached when illegal immigrants are sent back via ATEP and they can simply attempt re-entry,” according to his Aug. 24 statement. The ATEP removals accounted for about 37,000 of the approximately 397,000 immigrants who were deported in 2011, Smith continues. Without them, the deportation numbers for 2011 would actually be lower than 2008′s numbers under Bush.
So what’s the Alien Transfer Exit Program? That’s when border patrols catch undocumented immigrants and send them across the border. More specifically, they send them to border stations hundreds of miles away from their point of entry, in an attempt to break up their contact with a smuggler who would send them across the border again. If caught a second time, the immigrant is sent far into the interior of Mexico, instead of to the border.
But I’m struggling to understand how this constitutes anything other than deportation. The subject, the undocumented immigrant, gets deported, moved from this country into another country. Of course it “counts” as a deportation.
The entire argument is ridiculous. Even if Smith’s ludicrous determinant of what counts as a deportation were true, this would shift President Obama from deporting the most immigrants annually in history to the second-most. What’s the difference? There are net outflows from the US to Mexico among immigrants, mainly because of the economy, but also because of the new vigor of prosecuting deportations. And this, by the way, includes separating families and deporting victims of domestic violence and barring loving couples from living together in the United States and a host of other unwise policies.
So don’t worry, Rep. Smith. The President’s been plenty vigorous when it comes to deportations. Maybe not as much as you, but more than any President in American history, which says at least something.