Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who's the Real Deporter-In-Chief: Bush or Obama?

By Nora Caplan-Bricker, The New Republic
April 17, 2014

If you don’t follow the immigration debate closely, you may be a bit confused. The left is increasingly angry with President Obama, calling him the “deporter-in-chief.” That’s because the total number of deportations during Obama’s tenure recently passed 2 million. As Dara Lind wrote last week at Vox, that pace puts him on track to “have deported more people by the end of 2014 than George W. Bush did in his entire eight years.” Immigration groups like America’s Voice and publications like Mother Jones have made the same point.

The right is mad at Obama, too—but for the opposite reason. They say he’s deporting far fewer people than Bush, and has failed to adequately enforce the country’s immigration laws. Responding to Lind’s piece, and more generally to the arguments of the left, Sean Davis of The Federalist accused her of “deport[ing] the truth on immigration stats,” protesting: “Obama is most definitely not the leading deporter of all time. In fact, total deportations in 2012 were the lowest they’d been since 1973.” You can hear similar arguments from right-leaning places like The National Review and think tank the Center for Immigration Studies.

How is it possible that the two sides could look at the same data and see such different things? The key is how you define the term “deport”—and what you think about a broad change in policy that started during the Bush administration and has continued under Obama.[...]

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