Obama’s Deportations Record—
A Nightmare for Immigrants

February 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Launching his second term with the same sort of promises that marked the beginning of his first term, President Obama declared in a speech in Las Vegas on January 29 that “...the time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform” and offered the outlines of a plan that would provide millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. with a “pathway to citizenship.”

It is predicted that by 2014, Obama will have deported over two million people—more in six years than all the people deported from the U.S. before 1997.  In fiscal 2012, over 400,000 were deported, a new high for any year.  Above, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in a pre-dawn raid in Santa Ana, California. Photo: AP

Many Obama supporters, including in the Latino community, hailed the speech and expressed belief that this could be the beginning of something truly worth celebrating. Really? If you want to know what Obama’s presidency actually means for immigrants, look at his record.

A report released by Tanya Golash-Boza, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced, a few days before Obama’s Las Vegas speech features a stunning fact: at the current rate, it is predicted that by 2014, Obama will have deported over two million people—more in six years than all the people deported from the U.S. before 1997! And the pace of deportation under Obama has picked up, hitting a high in fiscal year 2012 of over 400,000.

Behind such numbers lie the devastated lives of millions of immigrants. As Golash-Boza reports, Obama has not only deported more people than any other president, he has also separated more families. Between July 1, 2010, and September 30, 2012, nearly a quarter of all deportations involved parents whose children are U.S. citizens and can remain in the U.S. while one or both of their parents are forced to leave.

Even as he oversees such towering crimes, Obama shamelessly claims his deportation policies have been more “humane” and that he has focused more on going after “criminal” immigrants, making Americans “safer.” However, as Golash-Boza indicates, most people deported as “criminals” were convicted on minor charges and not of violent crimes. In 2011, nearly a quarter of deportations were for a drug conviction, such as marijuana possession; another 23 percent for traffic violations such as speeding; and 20 percent for the “crime” of illegal entry and re-entry—in other words, for being forced to come here in a desperate search for work because of the plunder and ruin of their own countries’ economies by the U.S. and other imperialist powers.

Obama is the chief enforcer of a capitalist-imperialist system that skins immigrants twice: by viciously exploiting them in the lowest-paying, backbreaking jobs, and then at the same time by hunting them down as “criminals,” forcing them to leave this country and tearing their families apart. Obama told Telemundo TV, “I make no apologies for us enforcing the law as well as the work we’ve done to strengthen border security.”

And now we have the commander-in-chief of the empire, at the start of his second term, making the same kind of promises as he did the first time around, including a plan for “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Two million plus?  Still think Obama is a friend of immigrants?


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