Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
At the last presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tried to make a case on why their own immigration plans are the best for the nation.
Trump, the Republican nominee, touted his vision of a wall along the southern border and plans to get undocumented criminal immigrants out of the country. He also brought attention to President Barack Obama’s deportation record.
"President Obama has moved millions of people out. Nobody knows about it. Nobody talks about it. But under Obama, millions of people have been moved out of this country. They've been deported," Trump said.
There’s no doubt many people have been deported under Obama’s presidency --- but we were curious about Trump’s claim of "millions" and on lack of information about it, "nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it."
Here’s what’s known about deportation numbers.
From fiscal years 2009 to 2014, there have been more than 2.4 million removals, according to DHS data. Fiscal year 2009 includes data for a few months in which Obama was not in office.
Still, if we add just the full fiscal years in which he has been office, and for which data is available (2010-2014), there have been over 2 million removals. That corroborates Trump’s claim that "under Obama, millions of people have been moved out of this country."
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also issues removal data. But its removal totals equals the sum of two actions: "removals" and "returns."
Removals account for people moved out of the country based on a formal order from a judge. Returns track people who were encountered by ICE, but who chose to depart the United States prior to a resolution of their immigration case.
Even then, ICE data shows that more than 2 million people have been moved out of the country while Obama has been in office, supporting part of Trump’s claim.
‘Nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it’
In the debate, however, Trump also claimed these millions of deportations have not been spoken about.
"Nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it," Trump said.
2010: The Washington Post reported that "the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants."
2012: NPR reported that the Obama administration "deported a record 1.5 million" in his first term.
2014: An analysis by The New York Times found that since Obama became president, "two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all."
2016: The New York Times reported in June that Obama "has carried out many more deportations than previous presidents, setting a record of more than 2.4 million formal removals."
Even immigration advocates have called out Obama for his deportation record, challenging his campaign promise to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Obama was dubbed the "Deporter-in-Chief" in 2014 by Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza, an immigrant advocacy group.
"For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here," Murguía told Politico in March 2014. "We consider him the deportation president, or the deporter-in-chief."
We pointed out the Politico article to Trump’s campaign and a spokesperson said, "That was published over two years ago." But Trump’s claim at the debate did not specify that deportations under Obama are not currently being talked about -- which would still be an inaccurate statement.
Obama addressed the "Deporter-In-Chief" moniker in a 2014 interview with Jorge Ramos, a Fusion and Univision anchor. Ramos told him 2 million deportations under his presidency had destroyed families and that he was called "Deporter-in-Chief." Obama said it was "not true" when Ramos said he could’ve stopped deportations.
"There certainly has been a lot of folks who have focused on Obama’s deportation record," said William Stock, an immigration lawyer and president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "No one can argue that not only have there been hundreds of thousands of removals each year, but there have also been a lot of people talking about those removals."
Trump said "Nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it, but under Obama, millions of people have been moved out of this country, they've been deported."
More than 2.4 million people have been deported under Obama’s presidency. But Trump’s claim that "nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it," is completely wrong. Not only is federal data issued about it on a yearly basis, there has also been extensive media coverage about it. Immigration advocates have called out the president for it and congressional hearings on deportations have also taken place.
Trump’s claim is partly right. We rate it Half True.
Medium, PolitiFact’s annotated transcript of the third presidential debate, Oct. 19, 2016
Email exchange, Donald Trump campaign, Oct. 20, 2016
PolitiFact, Pence wrongly says Trump has been consistent in immigration views, Sept. 4, 2016
PolitiFact, As Donald Trump prepares immigration speech, mass deportation at issue, Aug. 30, 2016
Department of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
Department of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2014 Enforcement Actions
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FY 2015 ICE Immigration Removals
Email exchange, ICE spokesperson, Oct. 20, 2016
Reuters, Tracking Obama’s deportation numbers, Feb. 25, 2015
ABC News, Obama Has Deported More People Than Any Other President, Aug. 29, 2016
NY Daily News, President Obama deported record number of undocumented immigrants, despite what Donald Trump says, Sept. 1, 2016
PolitiFact, Has Barack Obama deported more people than any other president in U.S. history?, Aug. 10, 2012
The New York Times, Deportation Policy Shift Is Signaled by Obama, March 14, 2014
The New York Times, Record Number of Foreigners Were Deported in 2011, Officials Say, Sept. 7, 2012
The Washington Post, Deportation of illegal immigrants increases under Obama administration, July 26, 2010
NPR, Obama Administration Deported Record 1.5 Million People, Dec. 24, 2012
The New York Times, More Deportations Follow Minor Crimes, Records Show, April 6, 2014
The New York Times, Low-Priority Immigrants Still Swept Up in Net of Deportation, June 24, 2016
PolitiFact, Obameter: Path to citizenship promise under Obama looks dead, Sept. 21, 2016
Youtube, NCLR President's 2014 Message - Janet Murguía, March 5, 2014
Politico, NCLR head: Obama 'deporter-in-chief', March 4, 2014
The Washington Post, Watch President Obama get a little testy over his immigration record, Dec. 10, 2014
Sen. Jeff Sessions website, statement about declining deportations, May 19, 2016
C-SPAN, Immigration Enforcement hearing, July 21, 2015
National Border Patrol Council, NBPC Statement on Hillary Clinton's Immigration Policies, July 28, 2016
PolitiFact, Interior deportations down, at a 9-year low, border group says, Aug. 5, 2016
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.