Amid the geyser of Democrat lies is one that gets little attention. It was regurgitated unquestioningly in Juan Williams’s column in the Hill today: “The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants in four years than President Bush did in eight years.” This is simply not true, even though PolitiFact rated a similar claim as “half-true.” Contrary to the PolitiFact report, I did not consider it “basically accurate,” but the piece highlights a fundamental shortcoming of the fact-checking enterprise. It’s true that the average monthly rate of deportations is higher under Obama than during Bush’s term, but since Bush was in office for two terms, the total during his eight years is higher. In other words, the “more in four years than Bush in eight years” is flatly untrue, but an honest judgment of the overall point would be something more like “false, but there’s more to it,” which is sort of what they were trying to get at with the “half true” label, but it’s not really the same thing. And there’s a lot in politics that would need to be classified as “true, but” or “false, but” — but the fact-check model, with its Pinocchios and truth-o-meters, is unsuited for nuance, even if it weren’t dominated by lefty shills.
In any case, the real lying here is from the administration itself. It should come as no surprise that they are playing games with statistics to create a false impression. It wasn’t enough that Obama inherited an infrastructure built up by the two previous administrations to deport many more illegal and criminal aliens than before — they had to lie in order to be able to boast of a “record level” of deportations. Representative Lamar Smith, House Judiciary chairman, has unearthed the facts on the Obama administration’s statistical lies.
First, a little necessary background: The people who count in the “removals” numbers (which is what administration flacks mean when they boast of “deportations”) are legal immigrants who’ve committed crimes or illegal aliens caught inside the country. (The immigration statistics yearbook says, “Removals are the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal. An alien who is removed has administrative or criminal consequences placed on subsequent reentry owing to the fact of the removal.”) Those numbers do not include “returns,” who are Mexicans caught sneaking in by the Border Patrol and dumped back across. (The yearbook again: “Returns are the confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States not based on an order of removal. Most of the voluntary returns are of Mexican nationals who have been apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol and are returned to Mexico.”)
The reason this matters is that, as Representative Smith determined, the administration has started counting certain “returns” as “removals” in order to artificially inflate the numbers and create a “record level” of deportations. Specifically, those illegals caught by the Border Patrol who are shuttled to a different town along the border before they’re returned are being dishonestly counted as deportations. The point of this Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) is to disrupt smuggling networks and make it harder to just keep crossing until you get through. But they’re still just returns, without any “administrative or criminal consequences placed on subsequent reentry.” This has falsely increased the number of total removals by more than 100,000 in the past two years. Smith noted, “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% from 2009.”
This is not just a case of spin or fudging or “political lying,” as VDH describes it below. This is pure fabrication. And, naturally, the MSM fall for it.