Johnson Blames State and Local Governments for Plummeting Deportations

Jeh Johnson confirmed as DHS SecretaryThe Department of Homeland Security’s deportation numbers are plummeting, and Secretary Jeh Johnson knows why. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Johnson laid the blame, in part, on state and local policies that refuse to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests.

According to Johnson, a key reason for the decline in deportation is “because of all of the resistance that we were receiving in state and local law enforcement to the Secure Communities program, something like 239 jurisdictions where resisting, cooperating with us in our enforcement activities.”  And, since criminals are the only category of illegal aliens the Obama administration sees fit to deport, this poses a problem:  If ICE can’t take custody of these criminals, Johnson explained, ICE can’t deport them, hence the government is on pace to remove just 236,000 illegal aliens in FY 2015, even though Congress has provided the resources to deport 400,000.

The Obama administration has responded to this sort of state and local obstruction with a clear and unmistakable message: ‘We don’t care.’ So far, they sued exactly zero of these 239 sanctuary jurisdictions (even though sanctuary policies are expressly forbidden under federal law), and withheld exactly zero dollars from law enforcement assistance to non-cooperative jurisdictions. That’ll teach them. Instead, DHS has launched a charm offensive aimed at persuading mayors and chiefs of police to once again cooperate in the removal of criminal aliens who are arrested and charged with other crimes.

For good measure, Johnson signed a memo last November announcing that, “The Secure Communities program, as we know it, will be discontinued.” Secure Communities was the primary mechanism for ICE finding out when some local law enforcement agency took a criminal alien into custody. In addition, the administration has all but terminated the congressionally mandated 287(g) program allowing state and local police to be trained to identify and detain potential deportable aliens.

A second reason for the decline in removals, cited by Johnson, is that border apprehensions are down. In March 2014, Johnson conceded that the majority of deportations were attributable to Border Patrol apprehensions at the border, who were turned over to ICE and counted as part of the agency’s inflated deportation figures.

Johnson dubiously attributes the decline in border arrests to his department’s enforcement strategies that discourage would-be illegal aliens from attempting to cross the border illegally. (Cynics might have other explanations for the decline in border arrests.) Of course, with at least 11 million illegal aliens living in the U.S., DHS could easily redirect resources to apprehending and removing deportable aliens from the interior of the country. But that hasn’t happened. When President Obama came to office, interior enforcement accounted for about two-thirds of all removals; by 2014, that share had dropped to about one-third.

The inescapable conclusion is that there is really one reason why deportations are way down: For the past six years the Obama administration has systematically eviscerated all aspects of immigration law enforcement. We have a president who openly flouts the law and Congress that has thus far refused to hold him accountable.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar
    Nanc Cuddeback on

    Jeh Johnson is just using this as a convenient excuse not to enforce our immigration laws. He has done everything he can to go after states and communities that want to enforce our immigration laws. The man is a liar and a joke.

  2. avatar

    When enemies invade and attack and enter a nation illegally uninvited. It is deemed an act of war on our sovereignty. It is time to deport all illegal invaders and traitors and terrorist and the illegal UN. This is our land people. We only have one country people? If they steal our land we have no other land of the free given to us by our God and founding fathers. Is anybody out there awake. Forget DHS (it is an illegal unconstitutional foreign agency). We have thousands on our payroll who are paid to remove invaders. Do your damn jobs. DC owns nothing in this nation. It belongs to we the people and we have laws to protect our sovereignty.

    We are wasting much of our nations energy on people who have no authority to be in our country. We need to rebuild and restore the greatest nation on earth.

    Governors should be implementing militias right now to protect state sovereignty. It is time to give federal employees the boot out of our states since they have refused to do their jobs and uphold their oaths of office.

    Article the fourth [Amendment II][4]

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    “Officers of the court are sworn to support and defend the Constitution… those attempting to disarm you are violating their oaths and stepping outside the law. The responsible action for a people faced with such usurpation is to defend themselves against it, not with lawyers but with force. Submitting yourself to a jurisdiction that doesn’t recognize your Right of self-defense is also akin to surrender, since they have already made a determination against that Right by failing to support the Bill of Rights, Article IV.

    • avatar
      David Smith on

      Texas has already alerted its National Guard as to the incursion of Federal troops in military exercises for a possible martial law takeover by force. The Lone Star State already has experience in throwing off a tyranical government at the “Alamo” and maybe a repeat. Time for some backup. Law breakers and criminals have no honor and are cowards in the full light of day.

  3. avatar

    Obama, Johnson, Holder:
    He is Illegal aliens and terrorist pimp:

    This is a deliberate and willful act of high treason by the unconstitutional lawbreaking representative against our nations sovereignty.

    He should be arrested immediately for deliberate treason against our nations sovereignty. He does not own this country. Who does this imposter think he is? Really!

    He thinks he owns OUR nation people!

    This is major fraud and criminal embezzlement ($ 9 trillion dollars, illegal foreign aid, the illegal UN and illegal czars and illegal unconstitutional foreign agencies) of our national treasury and our natural resources by radical muslims, terrorists and illegal invaders and their pimps. This administration is now the pimp for illegal invaders and terrorist plain and simple. They have broken the laws of our land. Obama is guilty of trafficking illegal humans.

    If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

    18 U.S. CODE § 2381 – TREASON
    Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

  4. avatar

    Sorry example of the inept and poorly qualified people recruited into the upper echelons of this administration.

  5. avatar

    What a Bunch of Mesmerization Silver Tongue Devil Open Border Lies

    The states are now the ones making DHS a neutered dog on immigration law enforcement?

    The inference is most Americans are against deporting IAs. Another total lie.

  6. avatar

    As far as deportation numbers being down, haven’t a lot of agents been directed away from the border to “checkpoints” miles in the interior, which the illegals would know to avoid? Hello? Weren’t a lot of agents assigned babysitting duties at the various centers housing the surge of minors last year? Hard to catch people when you are not physically present at the border to do that.