The Mexican government is currently involved in a public relations war of sorts with the administration of President Donald Trump, as the two sides feud publicly over payment for the proposed wall on the border between the two countries. The American media has portrayed Trump’s immigration policies as a radical departure from those under former President Barack Obama, running numerous stories about Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raids over the weekend. The Mexican government has played up those reports, issuing a warning to its citizens living in the United States about the supposed dangers presented by the Trump administration.
However, one important piece of data appears to have been largely lost in the fracas. According to Reuters, the Mexican government has conceded that deportations are actually down so far this year compared with last year, the final year of Obama’s presidency. According to Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray, not only has there not been a drastic increase in deportations this year, the pace of deportations is actually down slightly in 2017 as compared to 2016.
However, illegal immigrants currently living in the United States clearly believe that deportations have gotten worse, and the combined efforts of the American media and the Mexican government have caused borderline panic in that population. According to Reuters:
He said Mexican consulates in the United States have received at least three times as many daily phone calls from worried citizens there as before news of possible ramped-up deportations under Trump.
“It’s grown exponentially,” said Videgaray, adding that people were calling with questions, complaints and worries about the process rather than because of the number of raids.
Last week, U.S. federal immigration agents arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least four states, in what officials called routine enforcement action.
Videgaray added that in some U.S. states over the past three or four days, there had been signs of changes in some procedures relating to the treatment of undocumented migrants, and that in California, there had been more visible operations against migrants.
While illegal immigrants clearly believe there is major cause for concern about deportation under Trump, the numbers do not bear that out, as the Mexican government clearly acknowledges. Further, there is no evidence that deportation policies or procedures have actually changed whatsoever during Trump’s presidency.
The actual numbers illustrate that Obama may have been the most aggressive deporter of illegal immigrants in United States history. Immigration activists derisively referred to Obama as the “deporter-in-chief” in spite of Obama’s executive actions designed to extend a form of amnesty to non-criminal illegal aliens. A very large percentage of illegal immigrants deported by Obama, particularly in 2015 and 2016, had been convicted of a crime (other than immigrating illegally to the United States).
However, Obama’s immigration record is much murkier than the numbers would otherwise indicate. Critics of Obama’s enforcement contend that the administration began changing the manner in which deportations were counted, which accounts for the increased number of deportations under Obama. Many immigration experts agree that an illegal immigrant was actually less likely to be deported under Obama than under previous presidents, in spite of the higher raw figures.
However, even taking into account the arguably inflated counting methods, deportations under Trump have occurred at an even lower rate than they did under Obama.
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