As of December, President Obama has deported more than 1.5 million people. Is it possible that he will deport 2 million before Congress can pass immigration reform?
By now most people know that the president deported nearly 410,000 people in the year he was running for reelection alone. It would be something to say that he set a record last year, but another to say that Obama set a new record for deportations every single year he has been in office. The few hundred thousand needed to break two million could easily happen in a year’s time.
What if immigration reform doesn’t pass this year? It easily could not, given the variety of issues that could jump ahead of immigration in 2013—gun control, debt, the economy—aside from the average glacial pace at which both the Senate and Congress move. So if it doesn’t, could a few hundred thousand more people that could gain legal status through reform—or through smaller bills like AgJobs or the DREAM Act—miss out?
Even if immigration reform does pass, it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion that record-level deportations will stop. Many will not be able to afford legalization, and minor crimes like driving without a license could put thousands of people in deportation proceedings that hoped to get on the “pathway to citizenship” one day. After all, it’s going to cost a lot of money to pay for English classes, pay fines, pay USCIS fees, and then pay an attorney tens of thousands of dollars to process it all. Wouldn’t it be easier to pass immigration reform—and better for all of us—if the administration stopped criminalizing immigrants?