Opinion: Illegal Immigration, Separating Truth from “Untruth” Part Two

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Sean Newhouse
News Editor

Due to the continuing national discussion over illegal immigration in the U.S., the need for fact-checked and accurate information is more important than ever. This three part article series seeks to correct, clarify and contextualize some of the most popular misleading statements on the subject.

  1. How does President Barack Obama’s policy on illegal immigration compare to President Donald Trump’s policy?

More than three million unauthorized immigrants, a modern-day record, were deported under the Obama administration. However, this statistic likely is caused by a definitional change in what constitutes a deportation more than a desire by Obama to deport people.

The total number of deportations is at its lowest level since 2006. Although, it is speculated that this phenomenon is caused less by President Donald Trump’s policy and more by a 17 percent drop in the number of immigrants arrested and removed at the border.

Individuals found within 100 miles of the border and who have been in the U.S. 14 days or fewer do not have a right to make a case before an immigration judge; thus, these deportations take significantly less time.

Nevertheless, deportations of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. interior (non-border region) increased by a quarter the past fiscal year, which is attributed to Trump’s expansion of who is eligible for deportation.

In 2014, President Obama ordered priority for deportation to be placed with “noncitizens apprehended immediately at the border, gang members, and noncitizens convicted of felonies or aggravated felonies.”

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data, 83.7 percent of deportations during Obama’s final year in office were threats to public safety and/or individuals apprehended at the border.

Trump changed this by expecting law enforcement to deport anyone who is in the country illegally.

  1. Why were children separated from their parents who were attempting to illegally immigrate?

Trump initiated a zero-tolerance policy against unauthorized immigrants in April. This meant all illegal border-crossings were criminally prosecuted.

Prior to the zero-tolerance policy, most unauthorized immigrant families were released and then handled by the civil court system. Under the zero-tolerance policy, parents were treated as criminals, which meant they cannot be prosecuted with children.

This resulted in about 2,000 children being separated from their parents for six weeks during April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Despite claims stating otherwise, the family separations were the result of an executive decision made by the Trump administration.

Ironically, Trump signed an executive order on June 20 ending the policy of family separation he created. 

During the Obama administration, families were separated if there was suspicion of trafficking or a strong likelihood the parent-child relationship was fake.

Part Three of this series can be found at the link provided. If you missed Part One, click here

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Cover photo courtesy of Mary McLoughlin//Opinions Editor and Peter Kolb//Print Editor.