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Record Deportations Not Changing Anti-Immigrant Outlook

McClatchy reports on the long-acknowledged Obama Administration advance of deportations of undocumented immigrants. Though the White House claims that they give precedence to those who pass through the criminal justice system, the statistics show that 250,000 of the nearly 400,000 deportations this fiscal year have not been convicted of a crime, or were picked up on a minor infraction.

Last year, nearly 390,000 illegal immigrants were removed. Critics of the ongoing deportation program say the numbers tell only part of the story. Despite the focus on violent criminals, the majority of the removals handled by ICE still are noncriminals or immigrants accused of lesser infractions such as traffic violations and misdemeanors.

Just 16 percent of immigrants removed this fiscal year are the top-priority, violent criminals known as “Level 1” immigrants, according to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

More than 50 percent of those removed this fiscal year are considered noncriminal.

Given the ferocity of the Administration response with deportations, they clearly believe that, if they “solve” the problem of the undocumented, then surely everyone will come together and determine a fix to the immigration system as a whole. Well, the tea party on the border should end any hopes of that.

Hundreds of Tea Party activists converged on the border fence here in what is typically a desolate area popular with traffickers to rally for conservative political candidates and to denounce what they called lax federal enforcement of immigration laws. The rally brought a significant law enforcement presence as well as numerous private patrols by advocates of a more secure border.

But rallies, even daylong ones, are no way to seal the border. The Obama administration insists that its statistics show that significant financing increases in the federal Border Patrol have helped bring down crime at the border and make the smuggling of immigrants and drugs harder than ever.

But the activists who gathered Sunday had a decidedly different take. The border, in their view, is still far too easy to get across and has become so dangerous that some of them brought their sidearms for protection. Organizers urged participants to leave rifles in their cars.

Surely, these xenophobes will be dazzled by statistics and completely change their views, right?

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David Dayen

David Dayen