By Bryan Caplan
I’ve been hearing a lot about Obama’s immigration crackdown lately, so I decided to track down some numbers. The official statistics on deportation run from 1892 to the present. The key definitions:
Removal: “the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal.”
Return: “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.”
I suspect that the “voluntary returns” are about as voluntary as the payment of taxes. But here’s how the government counts its deportations for the last three decades:
If there’s a big practical difference between “removals” and “returns,” Obama clearly looks more draconian than Bush. Even here, though, notice that near-Obama levels of removals date from the late Bush administration. On the other hand, if we treat “removals” and “returns” as equivalent, Clinton’s the worst offender. Hmm.
P.S. There’s a lot of additional data here.