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The Real Deal on Obama’s Deportation Record


Many activists and news sites have claimed that President Obama has reached or surpassed two million deportations.

The number two million is significant because when Obama reaches two million, he will have surpassed President George W. Bush’s record. Moreover, two million deportations exceeds the sum total of all deportations prior to 1997.

There has been some debate, however, over the accuracy of this claim. Let’s look at the numbers – provided by the Office of Immigration Statistics and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

First, please take note that I am using the more colloquial term “deportations,” whereas all of the figures below are from government sources that use the term “removals.”

President Obama took office on January 20, 2009. This is part way through fiscal year 2009, which ended on September 30, 2009.

That means Obama was in office for 254 of the 365 days in FY 2009. In that year, there were 393,457 deportations – a daily average of 1078 deportations. As Obama was in office for 254 days, we can estimate that he oversaw 237,802 deportations in that fiscal year.

Fiscal years 2010 and 2011 are the most straightforward. There were 385,100 and 391,953 deportations in those years. Obama was in office for the entire time, so we can add on those two years without any caveats.

Remarkably, the Office of Immigration Statistics has not released data yet for FY 2012, so we have to rely on the less reliable estimate from ICE, which is 409,849.

This gives us a running total of 1,424,704 deportations, through September 30, 2012.

According to a report by Michael Bender, “the government deported 343,020 people in the U.S. illegally from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show.”

We do not have data through the end of fiscal year 2012, much less up to date through today. However, it is reasonable to use the average number of deportations from October 1, 2012 up through September 7, 2013 to estimate the number of deportations up through today. The daily average during that time was 1003 deportations per day.

As of today (December 17, 2013), there have been 443 days since October 1, 2012. That brings us to a running total of 444,321 deportations since October 1, 2012.

Under the Obama administration, there have thus far been 1,869,025 removals.

If removals continue at this same pace, President Obama’s administration will reach two million deportations in 130 days – on April 26, 2014.

It is thus accurate to say that President Obama will surpass President Bush’s record on deportations – unless he stops deporting people well before April 26.

It is also accurate to say that President Obama has deported more people than any previous president except George W. Bush.

It is also accurate to predict that President Obama is on track to surpass, in just over six years, the sum total of all deportations carried out under the most recent Bush administration.

Tanya Golash-Boza is an associate professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced.

Tanya Golash-Boza is the author of: Yo Soy Negro Blackness in PeruImmigration Nation: Raids, Detentions and Deportations in Post-9/11 Americaand Due Process Denied: Detentions and Deportations in the United States. Her new book Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor, and Global Capitalism will be published by NYU Press in 2015.

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