Deportation Nation

Not going home


In September, the Obama administration registered its millionth deportation. Yet despite the fact that George W. Bush managed only 1.5 million in eight years, the Obama administration claims to be taking a more humanitarian approach to illegal immigrants. In a September forum with journalists, the president pointed to a new directive from the Department of Homeland Security telling enforcement officers to prioritize the deportation of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes other than immigration violations. 

But a controversial policy highlighted by the Los Angeles Times that same month casts doubt on claims about a kinder, gentler immigration policy. Under the Alien Transfer Exit Program, which is aimed at breaking up human smuggling rings, a male immigrant between 20 and 60 years of age traveling without a family who is caught on the Texas border is bussed over to the California border, and vice versa. According to the Times, only a quarter of the deported men are ever caught trying to cross the border again. The program relocated more than 70,000 men in 2011, up from 7,000 in 2008, its first year of operation. Critics—including some deportees—say the policy endangers immigrants by stranding them far from home or dropping them in cartel territory.