By Ann Kiessling
Democracy is messy. The success of self-governance depends on all the self-governed participating in the process, including the designs, discussions and the actual votes. This often leads to heated debates between party loyalists, and the losers vilifying the winners. The task for the self-governed, whether or not they are loyal to any particular party, is to learn the actual facts involved in the debates so they can decide the best way to vote for fair governance.
Whether listening to NPR, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or reading major newspapers, basic facts are rarely the story. The “news” presented is an interpretation of the facts, perhaps to make them more interesting, or to make it easier to understand the consequences, but such interpretation inherently introduces the bias of the reporter.
Fortunately, our government has invested considerable energy in posting information on its website, www.usa.gov. With just a few clicks, relevant facts can generally be found, and the assumption is that they have been checked for accuracy not only by the government agencies posting them but also by those seeking to find fault with government information.
An example is a comparison between the deportation policies of the Obama administration and the new executive order signed by President Trump https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/presidential-executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-unitedthat is currently being hotly debated by all political sides.
Obama administration documents have been archived, so it takes a few more clicks to find deportation strategies for the years 2009 through 2016, under an immigration enforcement program termed Secure Communities, https://www.ice.gov/secure-communities, described by the Obama White House as an improved program to keep America safe by deporting criminals and immigration violators. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2011/08/16/debate-over-immigration-and-deportations-facts-matter.
In 2014, the program was replaced by a Priority Enforcement Program, https://www.ice.gov/pep, that seems to have more clear exclusions for children and families not involved in criminal activities.
As a consequence of these Obama programs, and the last year of the Bush administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) posted Figure 1 on its website:
The sum of these deportations, approximately 30,000 per month during the Obama administration, both criminal and non-criminal, nearly 2.4 million in total, is stated by ICE as being more deportations than any other president in our history.
This is clearly the metric against which to compare the recent executive order by Donald Trump that seems to focus on the deportation of criminals, using the well-established mechanism of local law enforcement notifying ICE that they have apprehended someone with no documentation. ICE takes it from there.
Hopefully, in the near future, ICE will post on its website a clear comparison between the deportation strategies in the new Trump executive order with the strategies previously in place under Obama’s Secure Communities and Priority Enforcement Program — especially with respect to what is meant by a “Sanctuary City.”
Then we, the self-governed, can interpret deportation “news” knowing the actual facts.