New reports show that immigration courts are deporting fewer people. This may be because there are fewer immigration judges. The number of judges in the nation’s 58 immigration courts fell from 272 to 251 at the end of last year. Workloads and backlogs are rising.
More people come before the court with lawyers. That slows proceedings. Many cases simply vanish during the long hearing process.
Fewer people are being deported. In 2013, 368,664 were deported. Of that number, 235,093 were caught at the Mexican border. Many came from Central America. These cases are harder to deport. There were 133,551 people deported from within the U.S. About 82 percent had been convicted of a crime.
The U.S. is back to the number of deportations during the final year of the Bush administration (2008). The annual numbers are:
Are the reduced numbers good or bad?
Obama officials say they are deporting people who have criminal records. Many are repeat violators and some pose threats to U.S. security.
Advocates say families are being torn apart. They believe the numbers are way too high. People who have committed minor violations of the law are still being deported.
Conservatives and opponents of immigration reform disagree. They say the numbers show that Homeland Security is not enforcing the law. They say that waiting for an immigrant to be convicted of a serious crime is bad policy.
If deportations go up, does it mean that the Obama administration is too hard on immigrants? If deportations go down, does it mean that the Obama administration is not enforcing the laws?
The big question is whether the U.S. will pass new laws on immigration. Until that happens, no one will be satisfied. After that happens, some will still be unhappy.
Source: The New York Times April 16, 2014