How To Deport 11 Million People Humanely*
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he has a plan to deport or drive out every single undocumented immigrant in 18 to 24 months. He’s not offering many details — but he’s said repeatedly that the process will be “very humane.”
There are many reasons why this idea would be unrealistic in practice. More than 11 million undocumented immigrants are scattered around the U.S., and it would take a massive amount of money and agents to track them all down. Many of them have American family members. And some industries, such as agriculture, rely on their labor and might be left temporarily without workers.
But what about the “humane” aspect? Is it possible to craft a mass deportation policy that would be humane?
Since Trump has eschewed specifics on how his proposal would function, The Huffington Post reached out to several experts and activists — some who think undocumented immigrants should benefit from a pathway to citizenship, others who don’t — to see if they could answer that question.
Those opposed to a pathway to citizenship said mass deportation was feasible, in part because they believed many people would leave on their own if the administration would simply enforce existing laws.
To most others, the question was absurd on its face.
“There’s no way you can do this without being inhumane,” said David Leopold, an Ohio immigration attorney who previously served as president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It’s an inhumane concept.”
How Many Veterans Has The Us Deported Ice Doesn’t Know
Senior Reporter, HuffPost
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not know exactly how many noncitizens who served in the American military it has deported since 2013, according to a new report released by a federal watchdog.
The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that ICE failed to consistently follow its own policies when it came to deporting veterans over the past five years. ICE has policies that mandate the agency give special consideration to veterans in light of their service. But the watchdog noted that because the agency did not consistently adhere to these policies, some veterans who were removed may not have received the level of review and approval that ICE has determined is appropriate.
We found ICE did not consistently follow these policies from 2013-2018, the watchdog wrote in the report. ICE also does not maintain complete electronic data on these veterans. As a result, ICE does not know how many veterans have been placed in removal proceedings or removed.
More than 44,000 noncitizens enlisted in the military between 2013 and 2018, according to Pentagon data. Many of those service members are entitled to apply for American citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act, but ICE has the authority to deport veterans who have not obtained citizenship and are in violation of immigration laws or who commit certain crimes.
Trump Fumes Over Immigration
But Trumps frustration over the issue only grew. He has issued a drumbeat of criticism of the immigration system and Democrats in Congress, while using increasingly harsh terms such as invasion and infestation to describe illegal immigration.
Here, I think he is making it clear, he just doesnt want anybody here. He wants people to just be sent back, no matter what, said Jorge Baron, executive director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, who compared Sundays tweets with comments Trump was reported to have made in January about immigrants from shithole countries.
While some who advocate for stricter immigration rules have argued that people are making fraudulent asylum claims or abusing the loopholes in U.S. immigration laws, Baron said Trumps views went way beyond those arguments.
Trumps zero tolerance policy of prosecuting adults for entering the country illegally entails a process that typically takes many months. That required children to be separated from parents because they are not legally allowed to be kept in detention for more than 20 days.
Keeping the children with their migrant parents as they await court proceedings faces obstacles, however, including the lack of sufficient housing, a paucity of immigration judges and a daunting backlog of cases.
The Trump administration called last year for the expansion of the expedited removals program to immigrants who have been in the country illegally for up to two years.
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Low Priority For Deportation
Madjitov was born in 1981 into a family of musicians in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which was then part of the Soviet Union. His father taught him to play the karnay, a long, hornlike instrument, and he joined an ensemble of traditional musicians.
The family was religious, and as a young man in 2005, Madjitov joined thousands of others in a mass protest of the brutal regime of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who was infamous for his persecution of political dissidents and the devout. Government forces opened fire on the crowds, killing hundreds, and they arrested scores of others, including Madjitov. After being released from prison weeks later, Madjitov resolved to leave Uzbekistan.
A music festival in Austin several months later provided the ticket out. Madjitov and a dozen other folk musicians landed there in 2006, on P-3 temporary visas for entertainers.
He traveled from the festival to live with friends other Uzbek immigrants in Kissimmee, Fla. He found a job working at a Disney hotel and applied for asylum.
His application was rejected, so he appealed it. And when the appeal was rejected, he appealed that, his case bumping along through the dense bureaucracy with hundreds of thousands of others.
Madjitov received a final order of removal in 2011. But with no criminal conduct on his record, he was deemed a low priority for deportation by the Obama administration.
Madjitov was taken into custody in 2017.
Trump Emphasizes Deporting Criminals
Anecdotes about undocumented immigrants who committed heinous crimes pervaded Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump promised that anyone living in the United States illegally would be subject to removal, with convicted criminals getting the highest priority for deportation.
“A Trump administration will stop illegal immigration, deport all criminal aliens, and save American lives,” Trump said at a Nov. 2, 2016, rally in Miami.
WHY HE’S PROMISING IT
Trump continuously asserted that undocumented immigrants are an outsized source of criminal activity in the United States. There is no evidence, though, that immigrants commit crimes at higher rates than native-born citizens.
As of July 2015, there are approximately 180,000 noncitizens with criminal records living in the United States, despite a government order for their removal.
WHAT’S STANDING IN HIS WAY
As president, Trump could use his executive authority to revise President Barack Obama’s deportation priorities or start from scratch.
Prioritizing criminals for deportation has been Obama’s policy for the past few years, as well. More than 2 million people have been deported during the Obama administration.
Some of Trump’s proposals would require congressional approval and funding.
He also wants to triple the number of deportation officers within Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
HOW MUCH IT WOULD COST
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The State Of The Immigration Courts: Trump Leaves Biden 13 Million Case Backlog In Immigration Courts
When President Donald Trump assumed office, 542,411 people had deportation cases pending before the Immigration Courts. At the start of 2021, that number now stands at 1,290,766nearly two and a half times the level when Trump assumed office just four years ago. Waiting in the wings are another 300,000+ cases that President Trump’s policy changes have decided aren’t finally resolved, but have not yet been placed back on the active docket.
During the four years since Trump assumed power, none of his many policy changes made even a small dent in the pile-up of cases awaiting resolution. While the Trump administration hired many new immigration judges and implemented a range of different strategies aimed in part at reducing the Immigration Court backlog, the backlog grew each month. Some of Trump’s changes in court operations arguably slowed case processing. However, the primary driver of the exploding backlog was not only the lack of immigration judges but the tsunami of new cases filed in court by the Department of Homeland Security.
Even if the Administration halted immigration enforcement entirely, it would still take more than President-Elect Biden’s entire first term in officeassuming pre-pandemic case completion ratesfor the cases now in the active backlog to be completed.
How Long Have Individuals in the Backlog Been Waiting?
average wait until hearing scheduled 1642 days
‘all Of Them Are Fighting Their Cases’
The U.S. government might have valid reasons to be suspicious of Madjitov, but officials declined to say what they are.
According to federal court filings that do not name Madjitov, his wifes brother, also an Uzbek immigrant, traveled to Syria in 2013 to join the al-Nusra Front, an extremist group with ties to al-Qaeda. Saidjon Mamadjonov was killed shortly thereafter. And the FBI later accused Madjitovs other brother-in-law, Sidikjon Mamadjonov, of hiding what he knew about Saidjons death during interviews with federal investigators.
But no one ever accused Madjitov or his wife, Madina Mamadjonova, of wrongdoing.
The couple settled in Windsor, Conn., where Madjitov worked as a home health aide and Mamadjonova gave birth to two boys.
Madjitov planted a garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and apple trees in the familys yard. On Fridays, they would go to the mosque together, and on weekends they would go to the park and out for pizza or Chinese food.
I always worked with my lawyer wherever I lived I always notified DHS where I lived, and they always gave me a work permit, Madjitov said.
We were a very happy couple, said Mamadjonova, who said she has struggled to support the family since his arrest and has been battling depression. He was very affectionate, a very kind and caring father.
He is still in captivity.
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Trump Is Arresting More People In The Us But Cant Deport Them Quickly
When someone living in the US is taken into custody by federal immigration agents for the first time, they cant just be deported without their consent. They have to go through a hearing in immigration court to establish that theyre deportable , and that theyre not eligible for forms of relief from deportation like asylum.
Mexican immigrants caught crossing the border arent entitled to those protections. As a result, many of the deportations the government actually reports in a given month arent of longtime residents of the US, but border apprehensions.
Border apprehensions plummeted at the beginning of the Trump presidency. Theyre creeping up now, but theyre still below the levels of the past few years which were, themselves, way lower than the levels of border-crossers in the early years of the 21st century.
The Trump administration loves to brag about this as proof that its secured the border. But one consequence is that a ready pool of available deportees just isnt available to them.
So the decrease in deportations, compared to Obama levels,is explained by border crossing decline. But that decrease is happening despite stepped-up enforcement against unauthorized immigrants living in the US and thats because of the backlog in immigration court.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data, ICE arrests of immigrants have gone up from an average of 9,134 per month to 13,085 a month during February to June 2017.
The Trump Administrations Deportation Policy Is Spreading The Coronavirus
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On March 28th, two days after he was deported to Guatemala from a detention center in Arizona, a twenty-nine-year-old man, from a village in the countrys western highlands, became known as Patient 36. Up to that point, there had been thirty-five registered cases of COVID-19 in Guatemala, and Patient 36 was the first returning deportee to test positive for the illness. He had been put on a planepart of a deportation fleet known as ICE Airwith forty other passengers, most of whom, like him, had spent several weeks in detention. After landing, they were briefly held in Guatemala City and evaluated, but, because the authorities claimed that he showed no symptoms, he was allowed to travel to his familys home, in Momostenango, Totonicapán, where six other relatives, including a nine-month-old baby, lived. By the time he got there, he had a fever and a cough. A local health official told the newspaper El Periódico that the mans wife had known that he was ill before he left the capital. She alerted a medical clinic in town, which tested him. Almost a week later, the Guatemalan government announced that another deporteea thirty-one-year-old man from Mazatenango, about eighty kilometres south of Momostenangohad also tested positive, making him Patient 49.
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Deportation And Removal From The United States
Deportation and removal from the United States occurs when the U.S. government orders a person to leave the country. In fiscal year 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted 315,943 removals. Criteria for deportations are set out in 8 U.S.C. § 1227.
In the 105 years between 1892 and 1997, the United States deported 2.1 million people. Between 1993 and 2001, during the Presidency of Bill Clinton, about 1,870,000 people were deported. Between 2001 and 2008, during the Presidency of George W. Bush, about 2.0 million people were deported, while between 2009 and 2016, during the Presidency of Barack Obama, about 3.2 million people were deported.
Obama Vs Trump: Who Has Deported More Immigrants
Donald Trump was the self-described “law and order candidate,” who vowed five days after he won the U.S. presidential election to immediately deport 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants who had committed crimes. Now, 91 days into his presidency, new figures show he has fallen far short of that promise.
Between Trump taking office on January 20 and March 13, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 undocumented immigrants and deported 54,741 people. Compared to the same period last year, this marks both an increase and a decrease. Under Trump, arrests are up by 33 percent, but deportations are down by 1.2 percent.
The comparatively small drop in deportations is not necessarily a sign that the law and order candidate has gone soft. Unlike arrests, deportations are not instantaneous acts. But it signals that Trump so far hasn’t been able to carry out his campaign promises to push for mass deportations and arrests. He hasn’t even managed to beat former President Barack Obama’s record. Under the Obama administration, ICE agents arrested 29,238 undocumented immigrants in the first few months of 2014.
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Joe Biden Does Not Want To Be Americas Next Deporter
ALTHOUGH DONALD TRUMP talked the fiercest nativist game about illegal immigration, it was Barack Obama who oversaw the removal of more undocumented immigrants from America during his presidency, earning him the nickname deporter-in-chief. During his first term, Mr Obama deported over 60% more people than Mr Trump . Now Joe Biden is breaking records in the opposite direction.
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Immigration, Customs and Enforcement agency , completed just 2,962 removals, the lowest number on record. Since February ICE agents have averaged around 2,300 arrests per month, a fifth of the monthly average in 2019, before the epidemic began. The figures show how Mr Biden is trying to craft policies that treat immigrants living illegally in America more humanely than his predecessors, without giving his critics on the left and the right too much ammunition.
The other reason for the recent decline in deportations is philosophical. Mr Biden campaigned promising a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11m unauthorised immigrants already in America, who are seen as enmeshed in communities and productive members of society. To deport them before any solution is brokered in Congress feels heartless to the Biden administration, says Ms Cardinal Brown.
For more coverage of Joe Bidens presidency, visit our dedicated hub
This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Lowering the bar”
What Changes Has The Administration Implemented
Undermining asylum: The Trump administration has repeatedly imposed new restrictions on asylum seekers, making it nearly impossible for many people to claim protection in the United States. These restrictions include preventing migrants from applying for asylum if they traveled through another country before reaching the U.S. if they didnt apply in the previous country. The administration has also exported its asylum provision obligations to ill-equipped countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
In January 2019, the Trump administration began implementing its Remain in Mexico policy, which forces Central Americans seeking asylum to return to Mexicofor an indefinite amount of timewhile their claims are processed. Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. government has postponed all immigration court hearings, effectively stranding asylum seekers in Mexico. To make matters worse, asylum seekers are still required to go to their port of entry on the day of their previously scheduled court date to receive a new notice to appearor face a deportation order for not showing up. Learn more.
Now the administration is exploiting the pandemic to impose a categorical ban on people seeking asylum, further endangering the lives of migrantsincluding children.
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Trumps Last Deportation Flights
Asylum seekers from Haiti, Jamaica, and Mauritania are being sent back, one day before the Biden administration begins.
Santiago Billy/AP Photo
Guatemalans from one of the first U.S. deportation flights of the year stand with their belongings after deplaning at La Aurora International Airport, in Guatemala City, January 6, 2021.
The day before Joe Bidens inauguration, President Trumps Immigration and Customs Enforcement has several more deportation flights scheduled. The flights to Haiti, Jamaica, and the West African nation of Mauritania will deport asylum seekers back to their countries of origin, without allowing them access to the American asylum system, advocates say.
We are hoping that will be stopped but we also understand the cruelty of the Trump administration and theyre trying to make this their last show of power, said Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. Its important that people see the cruel and evil deportation machine. We are hopeful and pushing but at this point we also understand the cruelty of the outgoing administration.
At least one immigrant on the flight to Haiti has never been there, Jozef said. Paul Pierrilus was born in the French territory of St. Martin, but because his parents are Haitian, hes being deported back to a country he has never seen, where he does not speak the language. Pierriluss sister and parents are all U.S. citizens.