Politics & Policy

Trump’s Immigration Approach Is Less Draconian than Obama’s

Salvadorans deported from the U.S. arrive in Comalapa, January 2010. (Reuters photo: Luis Galdamez)
His proposed alien removals follow his predecessor’s legacy of mass deportations.

If President Donald J. Trump’s critics are correct, he is arranging for illegal aliens — especially those with criminal convictions — something nearly as excruciating as the Bataan Death March.

“I.C.E. MEN COMETH,” warned the front page of Wednesday’s New York Daily News.

“New immigration guidelines are about cruelty, not safety,” the San Francisco Chronicle wept.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Joanne Lin told the Associated Press that Trump’s immigration enforcement stance is one in which “due process, human decency, and common sense are treated as inconvenient obstacles on the path to mass deportations.”

But where were these trembling voices during the Obama years?

An official report from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suggests that Trump will struggle to match the pace at which Obama booted immigrants.

According to a document titled “FY 2016 ICE Immigration Removals,” the federal government deported 2,749,706 aliens between fiscal years 2009 and 2016 — on Obama’s watch. This averaged 343,713 deportees annually. 

In fiscal year 2016 alone, Obama’s ICE kicked out 240,255 aliens, including 136,669 criminal convicts. However, the report says, “101,586 aliens removed . . . had no criminal conviction.” Furthermore, “the leading countries of origin for removals were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” Obama’s disproportionately Hispanic deportees included 2,057 “suspected or confirmed gang members.”

America has no monopoly on deportation. Governments practice this basic function worldwide, even in countries that make American liberals swoon with social-justice fervor.

“ICE also continues to focus on criminal aliens,” the report explains, “as 58 percent of overall ICE removals, including 92 percent of ICE removals initiated in the interior of the country, were of convicted criminals.” This echoes Trump’s promise to banish alien lawbreakers before others. “Our enforcement priorities will include removing criminals, gang members, security threats,” Trump said August 31.

Perhaps Trump echoes Obama.

America has no monopoly on deportation. Governments practice this basic function worldwide, even in countries that make American liberals swoon with social-justice fervor.

‐Take Mexico, a nation allegedly victimized by Trump and other gringos. It deported some 173,000 Central Americans in 2015, 70 percent more than in 2014, according to Mexico’s National Migration Institute. Why? “The government came under intense pressure from the U.S last year [2013] to crack down on migrants after waves of children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala began arriving at the U.S.–Mexico border,” the Los Angeles Times observed.

Team Obama applied that pressure, and Mexican officials jumped.

Some 5,000 federales rolled into Chiapas, on the Guatemalan frontier. They opened border checkpoints, arrested migrants, and blocked them from a northbound train nicknamed “The Beast.”

Masked officers with rifles run operations on the train to keep [migrants] off and to remove migrants from the train,” immigration advocate Rubén Figueroa told the Guardian of London. “They set up checkpoints on the highways. . . . They enter hotels in the areas where migrants take shelter waiting for rides.”

‐Citing data from the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), the Toronto Star reported that America’s northern neighbor deported 148,057 people between 2004 and 2014, “70 percent of whom were failed refugee claimants.” The Star added: “Canada has deported more than 1,000 people to 16 of the most dangerous countries in the world,” including North Korea and, as it happens, six of the seven nations in President Trump’s robust-vetting executive order: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Some of these deportees seemed unfamiliar with Canada’s welcoming spirit.

“I tried to explain to CBSA that I come from the Gaza Strip, that I can’t go back,” said Hamoudi Ghareeb. “I fear for my life. None of that made any sense to them. So, I found myself handcuffed and thrown in a detention center in Vancouver airport and then an airplane.”

No One Is Illegal, a Canadian pro-immigration group, reported that CBSA has nabbed migrants at women’s shelters and medical centers.

“There’ve been situations where people have been [taken] right from their hospital beds,” said Natalie Blair, a registered nurse. “They’ve woken up, and there’ve been CBSA beside them.”

‐Great Britain, birthplace of the National Health Service, featured “40,896 people who were removed from the UK or departed voluntarily after the initiation of removal” in 2015, reports the Migration Observatory at Oxford University. “The UK removed 5,602 foreign national offenders in 2015.”

‐Swedish interior minister Anders Ygeman announced in January 2016 that his country would expel nearly half of the 163,000 refugees who poured into Sweden in 2015, mainly from Syria and other Middle Eastern and northern African nations.

“I think that it could be about 60,000 people, but it could also be up to 80,000,” he told the newspaper Dagens Industri. While such rejected asylum seekers normally are flown home on commercial flights, Ygeman expected this mass deportation to require chartered jets.

Swedes increasingly demanded that refugees be ejected after enduring the mayhem that too many of them have unleashed — not least the death of Alexandra Mezher, 22, a Swedish social worker who was stabbed fatally by a 15-year-old Somali migrant as she worked at a center for unaccompanied  refugee children near Gothenburg.

Trumpophobes bellow that his deportation plans are the latest step in America’s devolution into fascism.


President Trump simply is picking up where Obama left off, and exercising a fundamental government duty implemented daily by other states — from beleaguered Mexico to the Left’s Heaven on Earth: Sweden.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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