One of the most bizarre things I’ve seen about this particular transition between administrations is the willingness of the remnants of the Obama administration to push two claims on any subject where the Trump administration is having success. In Syria and Iraq, where ISIS is being rolled up by a US-coached coalition, Obama’s people are claiming that Trump is doing exactly what Obama did. He isn’t. The coalition is using Arab militias rather than seeing the Kurds and, improbably, the Turks as the main components of the force. Changing the composition of the force also led to more effective use of terrain. And if Trump is doing what Obama was doing, why is it working under Trump when it manifestly was not working under Obama?

The second issue is immigration. The Obama people take some kind of perverse pleasure in referring to the guy who created a refugee crisis on our Southern Border as “the deporter-in-chief.” The main job on border security is keeping illegal immigrants out, not trying to find and deport them after they enter the country. This is how the claim goes: Trump deportations lag behind Obama levels.

The U.S. is deporting people more slowly than during the Obama administration despite President Donald Trump’s vast immigration crackdown, according to new data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

From Feb. 1 to June 30, ICE officials removed 84,473 people — a rate of roughly 16,900 people per month. If deportations continue at the same clip until the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, federal immigration officials will have removed fewer people than they did during even the slowest years of Barack Obama’s presidency.

In fiscal year 2016, ICE removed 240,255 people from the country, a rate of more than 20,000 people per month.

In fiscal year 2012 — the peak year for deportations under Obama — the agency removed an average of roughly 34,000 people per month.

Let’s take a look at the data. Customs and Border Protection says there was a 47 percent decrease in apprehensions as compared to July of 2016, and year-to-date totals for FY 2017 are 22 percent lower than the same period in FY 2016.

cpb-data-july-2017

How does this work?

Deportations come in a couple of flavors. There are aliens apprehended more than a certain distance from the border or who have been in the US longer than a certain amount of time who are ordered to appear in immigration court. And there are aliens who are apprehended at the border and immediately deported. If border apprehensions are down 22% YTD, you would expect, all things being equal, that Trump would be deporting 22% fewer people than did Obama. But he isn’t. He’s only deporting about 15% fewer illegals.

Via Department of Justice:

Return to Rule of Law in Trump Administration Marked by Increase in Key Immigration Statistics

The Executive Office of Immigration Review today released data on orders of removal, voluntary departures, and final decisions for the first six months of the Trump Administration.

The data released for Feb. 1, 2017 – July 31, 2017 is as follows:

  • Total Orders of Removal [1]: 49,983
    Up 27.8 percent over the same time period in 2016 (39,113)
  • Total Orders of Removal and Voluntary Departures [2]: 57,069
    Up 30.9 percent over the same time period in 2016 (43,595)
  • /240255

  • Total Final Decisions [3]: 73,127
    Up 14.5 percent over the same time period in 2016 (63,850)

I’m not an authority on immigration stats but it appears that the DOJ removal numbers are in addition to the ICE removals. If that is the case, the Trump administration will finish the year with about the same number of total removals as the Obama administration while the number of people apprehended at the border is some 20+% below the levels of 2016. If they are a subset of the total removals then the year will end with the Obama administration having a 5 percentage point lead in deportations which is still weighed against a 20+% drop in border apprehensions.

The article even hints that is the case:

Another factor is the immigration courts, which face a backlog of more than 610,000 cases, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The case backlog grew exponentially during the Obama administration — partly the result of Central Americans seeking asylum in the U.S. — but the pileup has worsened under Trump. It has expanded by nearly 100,000 cases so far in the current fiscal year, an 18 percent increase.

As the DOJ press release says:

Pursuant to President Trump’s Jan. 25 Executive Order, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” the Department of Justice mobilized over one hundred existing Immigration Judges to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detention facilities across the country. Over 90 percent of these cases have resulted in orders requiring aliens to depart or be removed from the United States. The Justice Department has also hired 54 additional Immigration Judges since President Trump took office, and continues to hire new Immigration Judges each month.

One part of the Trump agenda that has really clicked has been border security. Justice and ICE/CBP seem to be working hand-in-glove to increase apprehensions and speed deportations. The fact that Obama deported more people that Trump has is not a sign of strength but a smokescreen to hide his refusal to faithfully enforce the laws.