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Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde July 15, 2020

Donald Trump does not keep promise to deport all immigrants illegally in the US

About 10 million people are estimated to be in the United States illegally, despite President Donald Trump's promise to deport them all.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the federal agency primarily in charge of enforcing immigration laws within the country. People removed by ICE include those apprehended at the border by Border Patrol agents, and people arrested by ICE agents within the country. 

ICE recorded about 749,500 removals in total from fiscal years 2017 to 2019. (Fiscal year 2017 included about four months of the Obama administration.) The majority of people removed were arrested by Border Patrol agents, meaning they were people trying to get to the United States and not typically people who have lived in the country illegally for a long time.

In a report of fiscal year 2019 operations, ICE said that a surge in immigrants arriving at the border in 2019 "significantly impacted" its operations, forcing it to reassign 350 officers to the border. 

The ICE report said that the high number of arrivals at the border, a backlog in immigration courts, high numbers of people avoiding arrest, plus Congressional and judicial constraints contributed to "extremely low" removals.

The Department of Homeland Security also publishes removals data — grouping the removals done by ICE and by Customs and Border Protection (such as "expedited removal" at the border). DHS data says that in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, there were around 625,000 removals, most of them done by ICE. (The latest DHS data available is up to fiscal year 2018.) The ICE removals that DHS reports are the same ones that ICE reports in its own annual reports.

(DHS also tracks "returns," which refers to the return of immigrants arriving at the border without placing them in formal removal proceedings. DHS recorded about 210,000 returns in total for 2017 and 2018.)

The number of immigrants illegally in the country changes as they are deported or leave on their own and as new groups arrive. For about a decade, the number has been around 11 million. Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, estimated that in 2017 there were around 10.5 million immigrants living here without legal authorization. Available evidence suggests that the current number of immigrants here illegally is about 10 million, Pew told PolitiFact.

The population here illegally includes about 650,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and are protected from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The U.S. Supreme Court in June rejected Trump's attempt to end the program, saying the administration did not follow the appropriate legal procedures. Trump's administration can try again to end it, the court said.

Trump has not succeeded in deporting all immigrants here illegally. We rate this a Promise Broken.

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde January 3, 2018

Arrests for civil violations of immigration laws increased, overall fewer deportations

President Donald Trump's administration remains committed to deporting anyone in the country illegally, regardless of how old they were when they came to the United States.

Trump initially kept in place an Obama-era program that protected from deportation so-called "Dreamers," or immigrants in the United States illegally who arrived when they were minors. But in September his administration rescinded that program, called DACA for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as officials focused on removing anyone in the country illegally.

The Department of Homeland Security said immigrants with an active DACA status would continue benefiting from deportation protection up to their application's validity period, and that it would adjudicate on a case-by-case basis applications from individuals with benefits expiring by March 5, 2018.

Trump told lawmakers in September to pass a legislative solution for Dreamers, but he has since warned that he won't sign an immigration bill if Democrats don't concede on funding for his promised border wall and support other proposed immigration policies.

It's uncertain whether a future spending bill will include a solution for Dreamers. Congress passed a stopgap spending bill in December to keep the government running until Jan. 19.

In year-end reports, immigration officials highlighted the administration's resolve to enforce immigration laws, without exceptions.

"The president made it clear in his executive orders: There's no population off the table," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan said on Dec. 5. "If you're in this country illegally, we're looking for you and we're going to look to apprehend you."

More people were arrested for civil violations of immigration laws in fiscal 2017 than in 2016, and deportations of people already living in the United States also went up in 2017. (The total number of deportations in fiscal year 2017 was lower than in 2016. That total includes removals of individuals apprehended at the border and in the interior of the country.)

Despite Trump's shifting stance on Dreamers, his administration has rescinded DACA and said it's committed to deporting all immigrants living illegally in the United States. We move this promise from Stalled to In the Works.

Our Sources

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde May 18, 2017

Trump says young immigrants can ‘rest easy,’ exempted from deportation priorities

During his campaign, President Donald Trump delighted his supporters and alarmed immigrant advocates as he promised to deport anyone who was in the country illegally.

"We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. They will come back — some will come back, the best, through a process," Trump said on February 2016.

Trump signed an executive order in the early days of his administration that widened the categories of people immigration officials can arrest and place in removal proceedings.

His directive and Department of Homeland Security implementing documents indicate that anyone in the country illegally is a priority for removal, even if they have not been convicted of crimes.

But Trump's tone has softened toward young immigrants who came to the United as children and who have received a reprieve from deportation under an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

As a candidate, Trump labeled the program "unconstitutional," pledging to swiftly terminate it.

As president, he said DACA is a "very, very difficult subject" for him.

Immigration enforcement guidelines issued by his administration exempt DACA recipients from deportation priorities. About 750,000 immigrants have DACA protection.

Trump told the Associated Press in April that DACA beneficiaries, so-called "Dreamers," could "rest easy" because his administration is "not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals."

News reports have said the Trump administration has arrested and deported immigrants protected by DACA, but immigration officials have disputed details in some of those cases.

One case surrounded by conflicting information is that of Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez, deported to Mexico on Feb. 20.

DHS says that Border Patrol agents arrested Montes-Bojorquez on Feb. 19, but he had previously (on an unknown date) left the country on his own terms without advance parole, thus terminating DACA protections.

Lawyers for the 23-year-old deny that version of the story. They say immigration agents physically removed him from the country on Feb. 17 when he was walking in a California border town. He later tried to re-enter the United States but was apprehended and eventually sent back to Mexico.

Immigrants and their advocates have expressed skepticism over Trump's comments that DACA recipients can "rest easy."

"This is a president who is saying, 'I love Dreamers and I care about them as children,' and yet is turning around and traumatizing them and their families," Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which is representing Montes-Bojorquez, told the Associated Press.

However, given Trump's new rhetoric toward Dreamers and their exemption from deportation priorities, we rate Trump's promise to remove all undocumented immigrants as Stalled.

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