Migration Policy Institute
The Deportation Story: Deporter-in-Chief, Releaser-in-Chief, or Reformer-in-Chief?
Doris Meissner, Director, MPI U.S. Immigration Policy Program
Marc Rosenblum, Deputy Director, MPI U.S. Immigration Policy Program
Muzaffar Chishti, Director, MPI's office at NYU School of Law
David V. Aguilar, Partner, GSIS; former Acting Commissioner of U. S. Customs and Border Protection; and former National Chief of the Border Patrol
Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law (participation via teleconference)
With deportation levels for unauthorized immigrants reaching record levels under the Obama administration, and after a decade of failed congressional efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, many immigrant-rights advocates are demanding that the administration scale back enforcement that they view as ripping families apart—and possibly even suspend deportations—until Congress passes a broad legalization.
At the same time, immigration-control adherents question the administration’s commitment to immigration control, accusing the administration of selective enforcement. Troubled by what they see as excessive claims of executive power, congressional Republicans are seeking ways to ensure that border security and interior enforcement come first.
These conflicting views partly reflect basic disagreements about what a successful immigration enforcement system would look like. Yet the gap between these narratives also reflects uncertainty and confusion about the actual state of U.S. immigration enforcement.
MPI’s report, released at this event, examines the U.S. deportation system with analysis on migrant apprehensions, removals, returns, and criminal prosecutions. It identifies key drivers of deportation policy and discusses how the deportation system has changed during the last two decades.
As the Department of Homeland Security reviews its removal operations, the MPI report outlines the tools that the president and Congress have to influence the deportation system going forward.