The statistics don’t lie: Barack Obama has become the deportation president.
The number of people thrown out of the U.S. for lacking proper immigration documentation started growing from the late 1990s through the 2000s, but it hit a peak during the Obama years. As the New York Times reported:
In four years, Mr. Obama’s administration has deported as many illegal immigrants as the administration of George W. Bush did in his two terms, largely by embracing, expanding and refining Bush-era programs to find people and send them
home back. By the end of this year, deportations under Mr. Obama are on track to reach two million, or nearly the same number of deportations in the United States from 1892 to 1997.
The Obama White House defends its record, claiming that rather than a general crackdown, the Department of Homeland Security under Obama has just been highly successful in making “[deportation] of criminal aliens the top priority,” according to the Times. The message is that the federal government is focused on getting rid of the “bad guys.”
In fact, immigrant rights activists point to studies showing that the government is still deporting huge numbers of people whose only “crime” was to enter the country without documentation. Even among deportees with a criminal record, the offense was minor in many cases. In a report last year, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency admitted that over one-quarter of “criminal immigrants” deported from the U.S. in fiscal year 2011 had been convicted of traffic violations.
But the case of Santos Reyes shows why the Obama’s administration deportation injustices extend even to immigrants with felony convictions.
Santos was finally freed from prison this year after spending 15 years behind bars as a victim of California’s draconian “three strikes and you’re out” law. He was convicted of a minor and completely nonviolent offense—taking a California drivers’ license test in the name of his cousin to help him get a license—but because he already had two felony convictions, he got a 26-years-to-life sentence.
This year, Santos finally won his long struggle against the cruel three-strikes sentencing law and was ordered released. But he then suffered another injustice—on March 28, ICE agents were waiting for him at the prison when he was released, to deport him to Mexico immediately because he was undocumented.
This society owes Santos the many years he spent unjustly imprisoned. Instead, the federal government is kicking him out of the country.