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Migrant Nation

Obama Administration touts rule change to aid undocumented families

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Obama's record on immigration is hardly one of reform or amnesty. Deportations under Obama are unprecedented, nearly 400,000 in 2011. Stats collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research arm of Syracuse University, suggest a growing information gap when it comes to the administration's claims of discretion. TRAC's data, compiled with Justice Department stats on deportation cases filed in immigration courts across the country, shows the vast majority of removals launched in 2011 hinged on immigration, not criminal, violations — even while the administration insists over half of those deported in were documented criminals. Immigrants charged with or convicted of crimes made up only 13.8 percent of all deportation cases filed in 2011. Texas saw 48,000 deportation cases, more than any other state, with 83 percent based on immigration — not criminal — charges. It's roughly the same for San Antonio's court, which saw most of Texas' 2011 deportations.

ICE calls TRAC's research “astoundingly inaccurate,” saying it focuses only on technical charges filed in immigration court, ignoring any criminal history triggering ICE's decision to seek deportation in the first place. But ICE has refused to the release the case-by-case data TRAC's asking for, which would back up or refute the administration's claims.

It's in that context that we should cautiously celebrate Obama's most recent proposed fix. “Even though we're talking about a minor change, it will have an enormous impact for families caught in this situation,” Leopold said.

But comprehensive immigration reform it's not. Said Leopold: “We're still caught in an untenable situation.”

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