Leaders Respond to Deportation Numbers: ‘We Need to Do the Right Thing on Immigration’

Assistant Director of Communications

December 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced deportation numbers for fiscal year 2013, which ended Sept. 30. Total deportations numbered 368,644, bringing the total number of deportations since 2009 close to 2 million.

“The actions of ICE are a symptom of our broken immigration system,” said Wade Moody, Pastor of Iglesia Vida Assemblies of God Church in Metairie, La. “Many of these deportations, under outdated and unfair immigration laws, are creating bigger problems by breaking families apart and causing many people including children to live in fear. As an evangelical pastor in a city with one of the highest deportation rates in the nation, I see the hurt and shattered lives affected by these deportations. We need to fix the real problem by passing fair and broad immigration reform.”

Although ICE is focusing on deporting people with criminal convictions, people who pose no threat to American communities continue to make up tens of thousands of deportations. Immigration enforcement continues to ensnare immigrants who have lived in the United States for years with their families and who simply want to contribute to our communities and economy — in keeping with our tradition as a nation of immigrants.

“The story of nurseries in northeast Ohio is over 150 years long,” said Mark Gilson, President of Gilson Gardens in Perry, Ohio. “Throughout that time, it has been a story of immigrants: English, Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, Puerto Rican, and recently primarily Mexican. These immigrants are responsible for our survival and growth. We need to do the right thing on immigration. In doing so we will help jumpstart our own economy.”

A broken immigration system that relies so heavily on enforcement also has implications for local law enforcement, which has been called on to help carry out laws that are the responsibility of the federal government. As noted in an updated National Immigration Forum policy paper released Thursday, an increasing number of states and localities are limiting the help they provide.

More broadly, law enforcement leaders recognize the importance of immigration reform for community safety.

“Immigration reform is one of the top issues facing the nation,” said Lake County, Ill., Sheriff Mark Curran. “What is most important to our future is re-establishing a rule of law, bringing integrity to a broken system, and once again establishing moral and humane principles in our dealings with immigrants.”

In the end, small positive signs in the latest deportation numbers are no substitute for broad immigration reform.

“It’s clear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is working to focus its resources on deporting criminals,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum. “We are encouraged that a higher proportion of deportees had criminal convictions.

“But ICE is still removing people with no criminal record who are just trying to build a life in America — including tens of thousands this past year. These numbers highlight the urgency for broad immigration reform from Congress that stresses accountability and moves our country forward. In 2014, leaders simply must follow through on a new immigration process that emphasizes security, freedom, opportunity and human dignity.”

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