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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

 
Vox successfully untangles the deportation mess

by digby

One of the interesting conceits of Ezra Klein's new project Vox is that it's supposed to be a venue for explanatory journalism, by which they mean to make complex issues comprehensible. It's very new so the jury's still out on whether this will end up being successful in terms of gaining an audience big enough to support such a venture.  But if they are able to produce pieces like this one about the Obama administration's deportation policy they will certainly get traffic from me. It's clear, it's comprehensive and useful in detangling the spin and cant coming from all sides of the political spectrum on this very contentious issue.

And it's devastating to administration, I'm afraid. The following is just one example of something this piece reveals that I did not formerly fully understand:
How many immigrants has Obama deported?

The best estimate is that the Obama administration made its two millionth deportation in late March. If Obama maintains last year's pace, he will have deported more people by the end of 2014 than George W. Bush did in his entire eight years.
[...]

Obama says he has tried to make deportation policy "smarter" by targeting "criminals" and "gang bangers" — and not going after families. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security has pushed to deport more immigrants than ever. Immigration officials wrote a "goal" of 400,000 deportations per year on a whiteboard at their headquarters, according to the New York Times.

The federal government couldn't do both. So, in the end, Obama's plans to selectively target deportations just ended up augmenting the Department of Homeland Security's deportation dragnet — rather than replacing it:



Since 2009, a little over half of deportees have been "convicted criminals." But this term is broader than most people think.

Simply being an unauthorized immigrant in the United States isn't a crime, but entering illegally is. So anyone who's prosecuted for "illegal entry," leaves, and then returns is considered a "convicted criminal" and targeted for deportation.

Unauthorized immigrants can also be deported as "criminals" for driving without licenses (which, in most states, they can't get). And the term "convicted criminal" includes a variety of smaller crimes: Experts estimate that the majority of American citizens would be considered "convicted criminals" under the administration's broad definition.

As I said, that's just one specific question about all this. There are many others, the answers to which you will likely find surprising.

It doesn't answer the question as to why the administration has taken this tack, of course. That's not something pieces like this are designed to do. It just spells out what's actually happening. The bloggers, pundits and political insiders will have to take on that topic and try to figure out why a Democratic administration might do such a thing. But at least everyone will be operating from a common set of facts.

Good for Ezra and company. So far so good. Very good.

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