Putting TRAC to Work
  News Organizations
November 29, 2016

Trump's plan to deport criminals won't be easy. Just ask Obama
By Catherine E. Shoichet and Aaron Kessler, CNN

Official reports on deportations describe immigrants with convictions as criminal aliens. But exactly what that term means depends on whom you ask. Data about whom the US government has deported in recent years shows that the term can apply to immigrants who've committed a wide range of crimes. Government data obtained by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, a data research group at Syracuse University, found the two most prevalent crimes of those removed in recent years were immigration and traffic offenses. Drug crimes came in third. "Criminal aliens" can be undocumented immigrants or lawful permanent residents. They may have gotten caught up in the court system for a shoplifting offense -- or served lengthy prison sentences for something much more severe. Behind the rise in criminal deportations Since the start of the Obama administration, the number of convicted criminals who were deported rose. But not all crimes are created equal, and a closer look at the numbers reveals that traffic offenses and immigration charges made up the bulk of that overall growth through 2013. As officials trumpet the priority of kicking out criminals, why would traffic offenses take up such a large share of the criminal deportations on the books? "Going after those with 'traffic-related' offenses helped (immigration officials) at least nominally look as if they were achieving their announced goals of deporting serious criminals from our midst," says Susan Long, co-director of TRAC. Another possibility: Authorities are using the courts to prosecute immigration law violations more than they used to do. "Formerly, individuals were deported administratively, and infrequently sent through the criminal justice system," Long says.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2016
TRAC TRAC at Work TRAC TRAC at Work News Organizations News Organizations