The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) recently released
some striking information about U.S. federal immigration enforcement.
The data is effectively broken up by nationality, geographic location,
year and type of immigration charge. It provides a better understand of
the deportation proceedings. Listening to media reports on deportation
statistics under the Obama administration is one matter, but being able
to see the exact breakdown allows for a more thorough analysis. For the
average citizen with national security or terrorism concerns, the TRAC
data provides solace in showing that these charges are amongst the
lowest levels across the board. Furthermore, this data is useful in
comparing how one state compares to the country as a whole or to states
with more pressing immigration concerns such as California or Texas.
On the national level and individual state levels, in particular
Maryland and Virginia the most common charge is entry without inspection,
well over 50%. The entry without inspection charge (EWI) is most often
applicable to those crossing the Mexican or Canadian border without
having any contact with an immigration official. Why is it important to
distinguish the different types of charges? Congress has provided funds
to ICE for around 400,000 deportations annually, and the Obama
administration aims at making sure those resources are directed at the
high-priority cases primarily. A high-priority case is one which poses
a threat to public safety whether due to national security concerns or
criminal activity. Now, the TRAC data clearly shows that the majority
of deportations are not these “high-priority cases”. This does not mean
that ICE is going against the Congressional initiative, rather EWI
charges are more common and threats to public safety due to immigration
are fortunately not widespread.
While the United States as a whole has Mexican immigrants as the majority;
Virginiaand Maryland’s most popular nationality comes from El Salvador.
What is the significance of these results? National media often directs
the immigration debate towards our neighbors in Mexico, but clearly this
may not be the priority for each individual state. Consider that in New
York the greatest nationality being deported (by a wide margin) is
Chinese. In comparison, big states California and Texas face highest
deportation rates for those individuals coming from Mexico, followed by
three Central American countries (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala).
What is the relevance of such statistics and categories, you may ask?
Well, immigration concerns and policy directions may vary widely in these
two states compared to for example, Florida where Caribbean deportations
are more likely.
Recent reports demonstrate that as deportations are rising in 2012, the
deportation orders have fallen. How can this be explained? Under the
Freedom of Information Act, data has shown that in May of this year 39,
426 people were deported; with at least a third removed from the country
and bypassing the immigration courts. This is possible from the 1996
Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act which established
the expedited removal procedure.
Are more individuals indeed being deported without court review? How
common are deportations through the Congress-granted administrative powers
for the immigration enforcement agencies? Available data shows that
although actual deportations are increasing, the decrease in court-ordered
deportations suggests other categories. Only 25% of the total removals are
court-ordered; the remaining are: 34.7% by reinstated order, 29.8% by
expedited removal, and 10.1% voluntary return under safeguards. To clarify
these different types of deportations, reinstated orders are those cases
whereby an individual illegally returns after previous orders to leave U.S.
soil. And these voluntary returns are those in which the person agrees to
leave the country with ICE monitoring the departure and without any court-
The national media often comments on rising and falling levels of
deportations but rarely analyzes the intricacies of the deportation process.
An individual is not simply “deported”. Leaving the country encompasses
everything: his charge, his location and his nationality are dependent on
the changing policies and statistics. So as not to risk over-simplifying a
complicated process; consulting data and statistics such as TRAC is the
first step in progress.
Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.