Both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) publicly announce the number of removals carried out in a fiscal year. Since 2008, the number of removals reported by ICE has exceeded those reported by its parent agency, DHS.
This discrepancy arises from what data are reported by ICE. Since 2007, the total number of removals reported by ICE has included not only deportations carried out by ICE, but also returns carried out by the agency. Returns differ from removals in that they are carried out without an “order of removal” and do not have administrative or criminal consequences on subsequent reentry. Generally, most returns are performed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shortly after apprehension of an immigrant by the Border Patrol. However, a few are reported by ICE. Removal totals reported by ICE include returns carried out by ICE.
By contrast, the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) of the DHS reports removal totals that include all removals performed by ICE in addition to those reported by the CBP. When compiling departmental statistics, OIS does not count returns reported by ICE as deportations.