Chris Chmielenski's picture


  by  Chris Chmielenski

During his first primetime interview since the election, President-elect Donald Trump told Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes that he plans to deport 2-3 million illegal aliens -- coincidently, that's the same number of aliens deported by the Obama Administration.

So who are the 2-3 million that Trump says he'll deport?

  • ONE MILLION ALIENS WITH FINAL REMOVAL ORDERS -- According to the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), nearly 1 million aliens have outstanding orders for final removal. They've already gone through the process, exhausted all their legal avenues, and are simply awaiting deportation. Within this group, 200,000 have criminal convictions and will likely be the top priority for the Trump Administration. Many others in this group have absconded and must be tracked down by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And, 242,772 are from countries that won't repatriate their citizens. To deal with this group, Trump has vowed to block visas for countries that don't cooperate with the Administration's removal efforts.
  • ONE MILLION IN REMOVAL PROCEEDINGS -- According to Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies, there are close to 1 million aliens who are currently in deportation proceedings, but have yet to receive a final order of removal. ICE can continue to work these cases and work towards final removal orders.
  • 250,000 - 500,000 RECENT ARRIVALS -- Even under Pres. Obama's Priority Enforcement Program, recent illegal border crossers are a priority for removal. In 2015, the Border Patrol apprehended 337,117 aliens, but according to ICE statistics, only 165,935 aliens were removed at the border in FY15. There are hundreds of thousands of aliens who have illegally crossed the border since 2014 and are still living in the United States. A significant portion of these aliens were issued Notices to Appear, but failed to show up for their court date.
  • OTHERS PRIORITIZED BY TRUMP -- Trump has said that he'd also like to focus on removing aliens who are members of violent street gangs, such as the MS-13 gang, who have not committed a crime or have committed a crime that failed to meet one of Pres. Obama's priorities. Additionally, there is another group of aliens who aren't affiliated with a violent gang, but have been convicted of a crime that didn't fit within Obama's priorities.


The FY2016 statistics have yet to be released, but using estimates from partial-year data, the Obama Administration deported 2.7 million aliens between FY2009 and FY2016 -- most occurred during Obama's first term in office. But 55% of those removals were conducted along the border after the Border Patrol turned over an illegal border crosser who was apprehended to ICE for removal.

In recent years, the percentage of border removals has increased dramatically. In fact, since FY2014, more than 70% of the Obama Administration's removals have come at the border. They only removed 231,000 aliens from the interior over the last three fiscal years, and nearly 90% of them had criminal convictions.

While Obama's figures and Trump's estimates are similar, Trump's numbers will likely be higher if his Administration continues to count border removals as deportations. Historically, border removals have not been counted as deportations, but the Obama Administration included these removals to help boost their deportation numbers. The 2-3 million that Trump plans to remove would most likely be categorized as interior deportations, while continuing to remove aliens apprehended at the border.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

Interior Enforcement

Updated: Wed, Nov 30th 2016 @ 11:25am EST

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