WASHINGTON—Critics insist that President Donald Trump’s order to begin mass deportations of illegal aliens next week can’t be done, but a former immigration court judge and other experts interviewed by The Epoch Times claim that ousting a million or more illegal aliens is quite possible.
“It’s not practical to think that our immigration system at this moment in time could handle” the Trump directive, Jennifer Quigley, director of refugee advocacy for Human Rights First, told the Los Angeles Times.
But a closer look at immigration data reveals large groups of illegals in this country who are likely to be relatively easy to remove, including many who will leave on their own, according to a former federal immigration court judge.
“There are about a million aliens who are defying orders for removal who really just need to be picked up, given a plane ticket, and sent home,” said Andrew A. Arthur in an interview on June 19. Arthur, who was an immigration court judge from 2006 to 2014, is now a resident fellow of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
Arthur said he believes there are presently about 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, many of whom “came to the U.S. to work, not necessarily to live here permanently.”
Many of them would return to their home country, he said, “because you can live a lot more comfortably in [Mexico] on money you’ve saved up than you can in Los Angeles.”
Arthur said there’s also an undetermined number of people in the country illegally who came legally but have since overstayed their visas. He believes most of them will voluntarily leave, if the Trump deportation order is carried out in a serious manner.
“So it’s not unreasonable for Trump to say that with a certain population of people but it will be more of a resource issue,” Arnold said. “There is a lot of low-hanging fruit.”
A second factor likely to result in significant numbers of voluntary removals, he said, is “because when you start to see people leaving your neighborhood, you go home yourself because you don’t want to be the next one” deported by the government.
There is presently little fear of deportation but “Trump’s rhetoric alone could cause some population of individuals to go home,” Arthur said.
Dave Ray, communications director for the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR) told The Epoch Times “there are currently about 12 million illegal aliens in the country and a million, both legal and illegal, have final removal orders that have not left on their own. That would certainly be the low-hanging fruit.”
Federal officials removed approximately 250,000 illegal aliens in 2018, Ray said, so “finding all one million of those in one year would be a herculean task.”
Large numbers of such individuals “are walking around ignoring those [removal] orders, with criminal convictions,” Ray said.
In addition to encouraging voluntary removals, Ray said Trump’s order will likely have “a deterrent effect on those thinking of coming here and becoming part of the asylum scam on the border, who claim political asylum and then disappear into the interior” of the United States. Under current law, U.S. officials are required to process all asylum claims, a process that can take many months.
A review of immigration court data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University makes clear that Trump has already significantly increased the number of illegal aliens being ordered out of the country.
There was a steady annual decline in deportation orders, averaging 9.42 percent, from 2009 through 2015 under President Barack Obama, dropping from 184,230 to 89,895. The data is for federal fiscal years, which begin Oct. 1 and end Sept. 30.
During Trump’s first two years in office, deportation orders jumped almost 65 percent, to a projected 192,006 for 2019 from 116,453 in 2017.
Arthur, citing a 2017 analysis he wrote for CIS, attributed much of the decline during the Obama years to policy changes by then-Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson that encouraged much wider “prosecutorial discretion” for immigration judges to decide how to process cases.
“Taken as a whole, DHS’s purported “prosecutorial discretion” policies made it clear that most cases involving non-criminal aliens were not a priority for the Obama administration, and it would have been only natural for IJs to have placed a lower priority on completing those cases,” Arthur wrote in the analysis.
The changes had other consequences, including a more than doubling in the time required to process deportation cases to 571 days in 2016, a 124 percent increase from an average 234 in 2009.
The changes also contributed to the swelling backlog of unfinished cases, which has grown to more than 870,000 presently from 223,809 in 2009.
Contact Mark Tapscott at firstname.lastname@example.org