This week, the Immigration Policy Center released a new fact sheet: A Decade of Rising Immigration Enforcement. With roughly 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, some question whether the nation’s immigration laws are seriously enforced. In truth, the immigration laws are enforced more strictly now than ever before. The Department of Homeland Security has reported record numbers of removals during the Obama Administration. Meanwhile, fewer noncitizens are trying to enter the country illegally, and those caught by the Border Patrol are now regularly charged with federal crimes. Together, these trends reflect a sweeping and punitive transformation in U.S. immigration enforcement. For example:
- The number of annual removals has more than doubled over the past decade. In total, there have been more removals during the last ten years than during the previous 110 years combined.
- The number of annual removals now exceeds the number of border apprehensions, suggesting that more noncitizens are being deported from the country than are caught trying to illegally enter in the first place.
- In fiscal 2011, nearly 70% of removals involved noncitizens who were given no opportunity to appear before an immigration judge.
The number of apprehensions along the border has fallen to levels not seen since the early 1970s, and authorities now regularly prosecute noncitizens for illegally entering and re-entering the country.
- The Secure Communities program is now resulting in more than 40,000 fingerprint matches per month.