Record? Obama Deported Fewer than Carter

While Americans were preparing for the Christmas holiday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nonchalantly issued its FY 2013 enforcement data. The Obama administration typically chooses these times to make surprise announcements, or bury unflattering reports.

Deportations, as defined by the administration, are down – dropping from 409,849 in FY 2012 to 368,644 in FY 2013. The drop is no surprise to anyone watching Obama scrap worksite enforcement, local and state cooperation, and nearly any other vestige of interior immigration enforcement. The decline of deportations is consistent with this administration’s belief that violating immigration laws – provided no other laws have been broken – is now entirely inconsequential and subject to little or no penalty.

Truth is, enforcement is not just down from last year, it is at near record lows. The administration has been cooking the books by redefining certain border apprehensions as ICE deportations. This has skewed enforcement metrics and has impeded any apples-to-apples comparison of the data.

How the Administration Cooks the Books

The 2013 data reveal that the Obama administration has been inflating their deportation numbers by counting some border apprehensions and returns as ICE deportations. Those two categories have traditionally been reported as separate numbers prompting several members of Congress recently to complain about Obama’s new “accounting” techniques. Yet, even the administration’s deceptive methods cannot hide the fact that the total number of illegal aliens sent back to their countries of origin under the Obama administration numbers is significantly lower than previous administrations.

Record Deportations? More Like Record Lows

  • At an average of 800,863 a year, the Obama administration has deported or otherwise returned fewer illegal aliens than the Ford administration, at 804,081 a year. Over a four year period, Carter also removed or returned more illegal aliens. – see Table 39
  • The total number of illegal aliens sent back to their countries of origin peaked under the Clinton administration at over 1.5 million a year.
  • The George W. Bush administration removed or returned an average of 1.29 million illegal aliens a year.

2013 ICE Deportations

  • Total claimed: 368,644
  • 223,340 illegal aliens (60.6%) were actually apprehended by Border Patrol, but ICE claimed credit for processing.
  • 134,000 illegal aliens were deported by ICE from the interior – down 40% since 2009.
  • Only 8,331 illegal aliens (out of 11.7 million currently in the U.S.) were removed for “merely” being in the country illegally.
  • The odds of an illegal alien having the law enforced against him was about .07% in 2013.

Those who support amnesty are playing along with the administration’s claim that they’re continuing to enforce the law. The “Deporter-in-Chief” narrative plays well for the opposition. Obama is the bad cop trying to enforce the law – “his hands are tied!” And the amnesty lobby can put fake pressure on him to continue to roll back U.S. immigration law.

Credit is due to Center for Immigration Studies’ Jessica Vaughn for tracking ICE deportations numbers and very accurately predicting the FY 2013 data.

About Author


Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    Wow the Obama administration is making utterly inexcusable changes to our nations immigration processes (and as a consequence way of life).

    Clinton, a democrat, removed and returned the most illegals our country has ever seen! Between 1992 and 2000, a total of 12,527,088 illegals were returned! Now Obama is returning a paltry 300k a year?

    If not for law and justice, why dont people support legal immigration to protect our country’s resources? At some point, whether democrat/republican, white/black/latino/asian, we will all be starving with little fuel and food. Stop using social justice as an excuse! Stop making the United States bear the brunt of social justice! The US isnt responsible for Mexico and other countries!

    For the love of our country, stop illegal immigration! Stop Amnesty!

  2. avatar

    Hewlett Packard announced Tuesday they are cutting 5000 more jobs on top of those previously announced. Wonder how many of those jobs are filled by the thousands of H1B visa and green card workers they have imported in the last decade? Funny how Microsoft did the same thing a few years ago, but still goes to the government for more H1B visa workers. Maybe that charitable streak of Bill Gates should extend to his fellow Americans who can’t find work. A lot of workers can be retrained, but the tech industry wants cheap compliant foreign help. The bottom line is it’s about their bottom line.

    • avatar

      Sounds Similar to NAFTA

      We gave Mexico a lion’s share of our electronics manufacturing….then China takes it from Mexico [did we plan it that way?]. Now this NAFTA Mexican joblessness is causing the current IA takeover of American jobs.

      • avatar

        WE the people have to stand up to this GOV and protect our country. We have set back way to long and now look at the shape our country is in now. People like John Boehner who is pushing for reform thay are the reson the laws arn’t enforced. If we the people would hit the steets and protest. the Gov would have to lesson. Form raillys and protest. Immigrants do why can we.