[T]here is ample evidence to suggest the administration’s deportation record is severely inflated, or at the very least misrepresented.
Consider the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report on year-end removal numbers for fiscal year 2013. ICE reported a total of 368,644 removals for the year (down considerably from the 409,949 removals reported the previous year).
The ICE report noted that of those 368,644 removals, 235,093 (or nearly two-thirds) were carried out on individuals “apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States.” This shows that while the Obama administration continues to deport illegal immigrants in large numbers, most of these removals do not constitute a “deportation” in the conventional sense. …
Returns, meanwhile, are defined as “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 primary difference between the two categories is that removals are processed by ICE, while returns are not.
In 2012, Representative Lamar Smith (R., Texas), then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, discovered that the Obama administration was counting a certain number of “returns” as “removals.” Immigrants apprehended at the border are often times referred to ICE and subsequently processed as a removal. This has the effect of artificially inflated the number of removals, or deportations, by at least 50,000 per year. It is also a reason why what the administration refers to as “border apprehensions” are near historic lows: People are in fact being apprehended at the border, but their cases are grouped as removals in the statistical record.