NOI 35: Why is Trump Deporting Fewer Immigrants than Obama?

Today in Nation of Immigrants we discuss why those immigrants being held in jail, why they aren't getting released on bond, and how that leads to fewer deportations under the Trump administration as compared to the Obama administration.

Jacob Tingen: … Nation of Immigrants 35. Welcome once again, as we talk about what’s in the news on immigration, and what’s happening, and why it’s happening. And of course, as always, I’ll give you my perspective on what’s happening here, boots on the ground perspective in the immigration world right now, here in the US. Just a shout out to everybody who’s following along, make sure you subscribe here at YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. And as always, you know you can contribute to the podcast and help us keep this thing running and support the bills of immigrants. That’s something that’s very important to us. As you begin to practice immigration law, you start to discover that, “Hey, I can’t just work for any one client. I have to be an advocate and do as much as I can to help people.”

Jacob Tingen: So thank you again for listening in. I hope that you find the information here today super useful and helpful as you continue to debate immigration all the time with friends and neighbors. That is an oft common thing to talk about. I know that impeachment inquiry is all over the news, but these immigration issues are very important and they need to be talked about. So thanks for coming in. And thank you for listening to Nation of Immigrants.

Announcer: You’re listening to Nation of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

Announcer: A podcast about US immigration law with your host Jacob Tingen.

Jacob Tingen: All right, so I titled this episode, why is Trump deporting fewer immigrants than Obama? And I know that I’ve mentioned that this is a fact. I know that I’ve mentioned it in the past. And of course now that I’ve started, I’m going to sneeze. Okay, so why is Trump deporting fewer immigrants than Obama? There are a lot of reasons, but I wanted to focus on this article in the Stamford Advocate. Says immigration jails in Trump era are packed, but deportations are fewer than in Obama’s. And I think the opening line of this article is pretty revealing.

Jacob Tingen: It has been nearly 700 days since Bakhodir Madjitov was taken to prison in the United States. He has never been charged with a crime. So I think that that is morally reprehensible, right? 700 days in jail, never charged with a crime. He’s in immigration jail. I understand that our immigration laws do need to be complied with, but why are we going to put somebody in jail for nearly two years? Why? Why would we do that? Especially if they’re not even a danger to our community in any way. I mean, he’s never been charged with a crime. Holy cow, what are we doing? And yet that’s consistent with my experience. There are a couple of other interesting tidbits here that this article says and puts in a way that I think is a little shocking, but necessary for us to kind of look at and consider.

Jacob Tingen: So here we go. Yeah. The majority of the detainees currently are people with no criminal records. According to the latest snapshot of ISIS prisoner population from early November, nearly 70% of the inmates had no prior criminal conviction. And then later on it mentions that the remaining that do have a criminal conviction, the most common criminal charge is illegally crossing into our country. So, I get that that can be a crime and yet it’s not… doesn’t demonstrate necessarily, in my mind, at least a failure to… Like, it’s not a moral crime to move a hundred feet north. You know what I mean? There’s nothing morally reprehensible about that.

Jacob Tingen: I understand that countries have borders. But then again, we’ve talked a lot about this and what people are looking for. The vast majority of my clients are fleeing for their lives. And then even when you do have economic migrants, which is sometimes thrown around as an epithet, as I’ve started to think more about this, what’s so bad about wanting to improve your life? I mean, isn’t that what the American dream is all about? Economic migrants would be your grandparents, or great grandparents, or whoever brought your family line to this country. So there’s not really anything wrong with being an economic migrant.

Jacob Tingen: So yeah, let’s just kind of start there. All right. So though President Donald Trump has made cracking down on immigration a centerpiece for his first term, his administration lags far behind President Barack Obama’s pace of deportations. That’s true. So you know, Obama, his immigration record is a bit of a mixed bag. I know that a lot of people think, “Oh, he was so kind to immigrants and wanted to legalize all of them.” But the reality is that Obama was pretty, you know… If you’re a conservative, you probably liked his immigration policies, whether or not you realize that now. He deported a lot more people.

Jacob Tingen: Just as one example, in 2012 he deported or removed from the country, 409,849 people. Trump, who’s tried to deport everybody, has only gotten to about 260,000 deportations in any given year. So he’s doing about half as good as Obama did on that objective of removing people from the United States. The likelihood that they’ll be able to round up the millions upon millions of immigrants who are here without legal status… it’s not going to happen. And especially not going to happen with the tactics they’re currently using. Unfortunately, the tactics that the Trump administration is using only creates an environment of fear for immigrants, and it makes our communities less safe. You know, there aren’t numbers out about that yet. However, there are a lot of anecdotal things… Or visas, and statuses, and things that were created to make our country safer that are now being undermined by the administration. I imagine they’re viewed as loopholes around immigration.

Jacob Tingen: But you know, we’ve talked some of these things. We talked about it last time about asylum, and granting work authorization to people who are waiting on asylum. It makes the country safer if those people can get work authorization, if they can work legally, if they can get driver’s licenses. Those kinds of things make our country safer. And because we’re not going to just deport them without giving them due process, and again, it’s not the immigrants fault that they have to wait so long to get due process. You know, giving them work authorization is appropriate.

Jacob Tingen: Now ICE has tried to do a couple of things, this article points out, to make it appear as if Trump is deporting more people, or more of the kinds of people we want to get rid of, but that’s not true. Again, the vast majority of people being held in detention and immigration detention don’t even have a criminal record. These people are not criminals. So it’s just kind of wrong to say that they are. Now this article… One of the things that it also points out is that the jails now are consistently holding more people than they were designed to hold. That ICE doesn’t really have a system for holding this many people. And then when you look at that, and you look at their behavior and their enforcement priorities, and their priorities are everyone, it just leads to frankly a clogged system. That’s why fewer people are being deported.

Jacob Tingen: That is literally the answer to why Trump is deporting fewer people than Obama, is because Obama actually streamlined things. He said look, these are our priorities for deportation; immigrants with criminal records. And Trump has said look, these are our priority for deportation; immigrants, period. And what that has led to is just a drastic slowdown in deportations, clogging the system. It has led to inefficiencies. If you’re an immigrant advocate, you don’t necessarily like either approach, but I do think Obama’s approach is a lot more understandable. I think a lot more people here in the country would prefer that only those with criminal records first are removed, and then we see what we do with everyone else. Again, that’s a little more of an understandable perspective. But when you’ve got the situation where everybody is a priority, then no one is, and it just leads to a lot of really unfair results.

Jacob Tingen: And we’ve talked about some of those results before, no longer being able to exercise prosecutorial discretion. When we’ve had kids who are sick in the past who would die if they were deported, those kinds of things, we were able to get administrative closure. Today, we can’t. We can’t get that kind of concession from a government attorney in removal proceedings. They won’t give that kind of consideration. And so those are the kinds of things that are happening.

Jacob Tingen: This article returns to the story of this person that was detained, that it mentioned at the beginning named Madjitov. And what’s interesting is it starts with a story, well it doesn’t start here. There’s a story here about when he was arrested. And it mentions that they arrested him, it appears related to some kind of other stuff that was happening. Yeah. It said that his brother-in-law was tied to an extremist group, and so of course, he fell suspect. And it appears that he may have also had an order of deportation, but they knew about him. They knew where he lived. When they came to arrest him, his wife was 39 months… 39 months. She was not 39 months pregnant. She was 39 weeks pregnant with their third child. And in these conditions, that’s when they decided to arrest him, and then hold him in jail for two years. That’s just kind of mind-boggling. You know, the lack of consideration.

Jacob Tingen: We actually know of clients, and I’ve mentioned this before, where they will tell the ICE agents, “Hey, I’m a citizen. Don’t arrest me.” And, and the ICE agents just seem to not care, or dismiss those kinds of representations. That’s alarming. So yeah, this article agrees with what I’m telling you. There are other attorneys that are talking about this… It says the Obama administration, because they had enforcement priorities, were able to streamline deportations. The Trump administration is making it harder for people to obtain visas or legal status, and at the same time their deportation priority is everyone. So because of that, they clog the system.

Jacob Tingen: So if you had questions about why Trump has been deporting fewer people than Obama, now you know. The policies, this whole hard line stance in every single thing that they do, actually leads to a lot of inefficiencies. And then additionally… You know, the attack on legal immigration is not going well. First of all, a lot of these things get stalled in the courts, for good reason. Because the actions that are being taken aren’t lawful, in many, many respects. But also, they’re kind of just repugnant to who we are as a nation.

Jacob Tingen: I believe in the American dream. Immigrants still believe in the American dream. And as I’ve said from the beginning of this presidency that you know, it doesn’t matter how big of a wall they build, how deep it goes, how tall it is, people will come as long as America stands for a land of hope and dreams and fulfillment. And we do. And that’s the mantle we have, right? Whether or not we live up to it is up for debate. And of course we try and strive to be the nation, and live up to the ideals of trying to… A lot of our founding documents, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. People will come for that. And that’s the draw to the United States. Draws to the United States don’t generally include lax immigration policy. That’s just not really a motivation for people to come here. But they do come here for safety. And sure, they come for economic mobility. Yeah… I don’t think that that’s bad. Like we’ve talked about also on the Statue of Liberty; give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.

Jacob Tingen: So thanks again for listening. Nation of Immigrants. Follow us, don’t forget to follow and subscribe. And don’t forget to contribute and donate to the podcast at Visit the podcast link and there you can support the podcast. Thanks so much for listening and I hope to see you around here soon.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to Nation of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

Announcer: Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Watch the live stream on YouTube and Facebook, or visit to learn more.

Share This Post

Related Articles

Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch within 1 business day!

Are you ready for a superior client experience?

We’re a Richmond, Virginia law firm with clients from around the world. Schedule your consultation today and let’s talk about what we can do for you!