Though some immigration-reform activists have called President Obama the "deporter in chief," court-ordered deportations actually declined 43 percent during the president's first five years in office, according to a recent report.
The New York Times looked at statistics released by Department of Justice and suggested a few reasons for the drop in court deportations. These include fewer cases being brought by federal prosecutors, and more foreigners retaining immigration lawyers.
Here's a closer look at the numbers and what they mean for immigrants in deportation cases:
Deportation by the Numbers
The Justice Department's statistics show immigration judges ordered deportation in 105,064 cases in 2013. That's down 43 percent from 2009, according to the Times.
The Times also found "immigration judges have approved a smaller share of deportations" over the past five years. In other words, judges are more frequently allowing foreigners to remain in the United States: This occurred in about one-third of cases in 2013, up from about one-fifth in 2009, according to the Times.
The Obama administration also brought fewer deportation cases to court over the past five years. In 2009, the government pursued more than 254,000 deportation cases; in 2013, that number was less than 188,000.
What This Means for Foreigners Facing Potential Deportation
Though it may seem like the courts and the government are becoming more lenient when it comes to deportation cases, the Times suggests there may be other reasons too. The lower statistics could partly be the result of more immigrants hiring immigration lawyers and contesting deportations, resulting in lengthier and more complex cases for judges.
So for people facing potential deportation, here are some legal tips to keep in mind:
- Hire an immigration attorney. An experienced immigration lawyer knows the laws inside and out and can speak up for you at a deportation hearing; many offer free consultations. Head over to FindLaw's Lawyer Directory to find one near you.
- Know why you're facing deportation. Understanding why you're facing deportation is the first step in figuring out the proper channels to take when challenging it in court. A lawyer can help you figure this out as well.
- You may be able to adjust your immigration status. Some people who've overstayed their visas, but entered the country legally, may be afraid that they'll get deported immediately if the government finds out. However, those people may be able to petition for an Adjustment of Status to stay in the United States under certain circumstances and receive a green card. Ask your attorney if you're eligible.
Facing the possibility of deportation is daunting, but you don't have to face it alone. To learn more, check out FindLaw's section on Deportation and Removal.
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