For more than a decade, the general thrust of U.S. immigration policy has been aimed at expanding the grounds of removal and the tools for facilitating deportations from the country. Not surprisingly, this has come at an enormous cost. Although the figure has been disputed by restrictionists, a report from the Migration Policy Institute recently found that the federal government spent $18 billion last year on immigration enforcement. Dollars are not the only way to measure immigration enforcement, however, as the number of removals has itself skyrocketed in recent years.
Beyond expelling an immigrant from the country, an order of deportation (or “removal”) carries significant legal penalties. Any deportee who later illegally re-enters the country is subject to felony charges and is permanently barred from obtaining legal status. As a new IPC fact sheet explains, the number of removals has risen dramatically over the past decade—from an average of 180,000 in the years immediately preceding the September 11 attacks, to nearly 400,000 during each year of the Obama administration.* To put these figures into historical perspective, there have been more removals in the past ten years than in the previous 110 years combined.
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