Migration Policy Institute
The U.S. Deportation System: Trends from a Decade of Data
Marc Rosenblum, Deputy Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI
Rebecca Gambler, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Team, U.S. Government Accountability Office
Mark Noferi, Enforcement Fellow, Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Council
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI
The United States has formally removed 3.7 million noncitizens since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established in 2003, a record pace of deportations. An examination of the dataset of all removals effectuated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) between fiscal 2003-2013 offers unique insights and lessons. Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis of the DHS data and what it says about major changes to the U.S. deportation system is unveiled in the report Deportation and Discretion: Reviewing the Record and Options for Change. The report and discussion provide a detailed description of formal removals from the United States, including the previous immigration and criminal records of deportees, as well as their country of origin, gender, length of residence in the United States, and other demographic characteristics. The report provides answers to key questions about immigration enforcement: who is being removed, where are noncitizens being apprehended, how are they being removed, and how are DHS’s current enforcement priorities reflected in enforcement outcomes. With the Obama administration considering action to limit removals of certain unauthorized immigrants, the report also offers a timely assessment of how changes to enforcement priorities could affect future deportations. Discussion at the event focuses on MPI’s insights from ICE’s removals dataset, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by The New York Times, as well as the work done by the Government Accountability Office in this area. This event offered a unique opportunity to review the past decade-plus of deportations and determine what lessons can be learned for future policy and possible administrative action.