Activists this weekend showed up at demonstrations across the country to draw attention to the nearly two million deportations estimated to have occurred since 2008. While many groups were pushing state legislators to change immigration laws, protesters are increasingly turning their focus to President Obama.
Amid the protests, the New York Times published a report that disputed Obama’s claims that the government is targeting “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community” and not students or “folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”
Instead, the article said:
[A] New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.
The Times pointed out that immigration and deportations have become one of the most contentious debates during Obama’s tenure and included comments from national immigrant rights activists who say there is a disconnect between his call for more “humane” immigration policy and the high deportation numbers.
“For years, the Obama administration’s spin has been that they are simply deporting so-called ‘criminal aliens,’ but the numbers speak for themselves,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “In truth, this administration — more than any other — has devastated immigrant communities across the country, tearing families away from loved ones, simply because they drove without a license, or re-entered the country desperately trying to be reunited with their family members.”
Other activists have also expressed disappointment:
“When the president told us he was going to only go after criminal aliens, we all said, ‘OK, go do that, but don’t go after people whose only crime is that they’re living here undocumented,’ ” said Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. who attended the meeting. “But that’s not what happened. Now immigrant communities are feeling under attack. And it’s hard for them to focus on trying to win reform, when they’re afraid they could be pulled over for running a red light, and get torn away from their families.”
The anti-immigrant movement’s response to yesterday’s article has been muted, so far, though not altogether silent. Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, responded on Twitter saying the main reasons for the numbers the Times came up with was because the reporters aggregated border and interior deport cases, but she added:
“[W]hy should minor criminals be exempt?”
Vaughan was the author of a report, published last Monday, that says the Obama administration released “68,000 convicted criminal aliens” in 2013 and abused its power through prosecutorial discretion. The report, filled with dehumanizing language and misleading figures, was released last week and aimed at undermining the nationwide protests.
Click here to read the full New York Times article.