Pew Mangles Deportation Numbers in Latest Report

The Pew Research Center has posted a new article on deportation statistics for 2013 that obscures the real picture of how the Obama administration is conducting immigration enforcement.

Pew authors Jens Manuel Krogstad and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera say:

About six-in-ten unauthorized immigrants deported in fiscal year 2013 had been convicted of a federal or   state crime, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Of all those deported, 33% had       committed at least one felony—crimes ranging from murder to failure to appear in court, or at least three misdemeanors. That means 152,000 immigrants were deported but did not have a criminal conviction.  Another 95,000 were deported and had a criminal record that included no more than two misdemeanors.

The problem with this report is that it creates the false impression that 150,000 people were picked up and deported through ICE enforcement efforts in the interior of the U.S. And, prior to the Obama administration’s new statistical reporting on deportations, that would have been a safe assumption.

Deportations from interior enforcement used to be reported separately. However, as DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson was forced to admit last week, DHS has been counting people removed from the U.S. after being apprehended at the border as “deportations”  – something that the Bush administration and other previous administrations never did.

The net effect is to inflate deportation numbers, and the Pew study isn’t going out of the way to correct that impression by citing the 152,000 number. In fact, the DHS report lays out the basic fact that

Eighty-five percent (128,398) of ICE’s 151,834 non-criminal removals were individuals attempting to unlawfully enter the U.S. Overall, 93 percent of all ICE’s non-criminal removals were of recent border crossers, repeat immigration violators, or fugitives from the immigration courts.

Looking through the DHS report, roughly 20,000 people who were not criminally convicted (repeat border crossers and other removals) were removed as a result of interior enforcement. That’s 20,000 out of an estimated illegal alien population of 12 million plus.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    I’m disappointed. I often use PEW reports when discussing immigration; now it appears they’re skewing the facts – either by mistake or they’re trying to support the administration’s figures.

    • avatar

      Pew has always skewed numbers. There are probably 50 million illegal aliens in the country. That would explain the population growth.