March 18, 2014

In 2013, 59% of deported immigrants convicted of a crime

FT-2014-03-17-immigrants-crime-01President Obama ordered a review of immigration enforcement policies last week, following weeks of growing pressure from Democrats and Latino leaders, one of whom recently called him “deporter in chief.” As the number of unauthorized immigrants sent home nears two million under his administration, the president met with advocates late on Friday and acknowledged deportations should be more humane, citing concern over a broken immigration system that separates families.

About six-in-ten unauthorized immigrants deported in fiscal year 2013 had been convicted of a federal or state crime, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Of all those deported, 33% had committed at least one felony—crimes ranging from murder to failure to appear in court, or at least three misdemeanors. That means 152,000 immigrants were deported but did not have a criminal conviction. Another 95,000 were deported and had a criminal record that included no more than two misdemeanors.

Deportations have risen under Obama, compared with his predecessor, George W. Bush. About 396,000 immigrants per year have been deported since 2009, compared to about 252,000 deportations a year under Bush, though deportations had risen to about 360,000 during Bush’s last year in office.

Republicans say Obama has been lax on enforcement because most deportations under his administration have come at the border rather than from the interior of the country. About 64% of those deported in fiscal year 2013 were arrested at the border, but no comparable data from past years are available because this is the first year Immigration and Customs Enforcement had reported this statistic.

Americans are evenly divided on whether the increased number of deportations of undocumented immigrants in recent years is a good thing or a bad thing (45% each), according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults.

Pressure on Obama to act on deportations started last week, when National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguía called the president the “deporter in chief.” But the White House said that the president would not suspend deportations, nor would he expand the number of immigrants eligible for work permits under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Relief from the threat of deportation is more important than a chance at citizenship to a majority (55%) of Hispanics, according to a Pew Research survey last fall. About three-quarters of the nation’s 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants are Hispanic, according to Pew Research estimates.

Topics: Immigration, Criminal Justice

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Ana Gonzalez-Barrera

    is a senior researcher focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. alberto3 years ago

    Fui deportado. Despues d vivir 30 anos en san diego california y mi vida aqui en mexico es un caus es un pais d mentiritas

  2. Pav Sterry3 years ago

    Lamar Smith
    Obama administration counts deportations differently
    In his Feb. 23 column, “GOP stays quiet on record deportations,” Ruben Navarrette Jr. claims that the president has deported a record number of illegal immigrants. However, the administration’s deportation figures are inflated.

    Unlike the Bush and Clinton administrations, this administration counts turnbacks or returns at the border as removals. In fact, a single illegal immigrant can show up at the border and be removed numerous times in a single year and counted each time as a removal. Excluding the border turnbacks, interior deportations are actually down almost 40 percent since 2009.

  3. forumsforjustice3 years ago

    In FY2013, out of 368,644 alleged deportations/removals, only 133,551 illegals were deported/removed from the interior of our country.

    the other 235,093, so-called deportations/removals, were border-turnarounds.

    Until Obama, border-turnarounds have never been counted as deportations, nor should they be.

    for Obama to tout 368,644 deportations/removals is called OUTRIGHT LYING by the American people …

    The reality is that in FY2013, only 133,551 illegal immigrants, 110,115 of which were previously convicted criminals, were deported, by Obama, from our United States.

    Obama’s FY2013 actual deportations are the lowest number of deportations in over 15 years.

    1. independence017762 years ago

      According to the article 59% of deportations were criminal deportations. In other words they had to commit a crime in the US and thus must not have been a border turnarounds.

      So of the 368,644, at least 217,000 must have been in the US in order to commit a crime. I’m sure a few of the others deported who weren’t criminals weren’t border turnarounds nor could I find any statistics on border turnarounds that would confirm the information you provided.

      1. CompulsivelyCorrecting2 years ago

        Your second sentence is actually false. Convicted criminals who are border turnarounds are considered as “criminal deportations”. Of the 59% (or 217,000, as you put it), roughly half of those are border turnarounds. I don’t have the exact numbers for 2013, but the 2014 numbers can be found at the source ( forumsforjustice seems to have accurate numbers.

      2. CorrectionSpecialist2 years ago

        He actually pulled the numbers straight from the ICE website (, and they are accurate.