- - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Obama administration officials at the Department of Homeland Security claim they are on track to deport a record number of illegal immigrants this year. But on closer examination, the administration’s numbers simply don’t add up.

Internal Homeland Security documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee reveal that President Obama's administration has inflated the figures to achieve its so-called historic deportation numbers. These documents show that administration officials have fabricated their statistics by adding more than 140,000 removals to their deportation figures for the past two years.

Since 2011, the Obama administration has included in its year-end deportation statistics more than 100,000 removals from a Border Patrol program that returns illegal immigrants to Mexico right after they cross the border. It’s dishonest to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border as removals. These are actually returns, where the illegal immigrant is simply turned around and escorted across the border to another location. The illegal immigrant is not subject to any statutory civil or criminal penalties or bars for returning to the United States. This means a single illegal immigrant can show up at the border, be removed numerous times in a single year and be counted each time as a removal.

When the numbers from this Border Patrol program are removed from this year’s deportation data, they show that removals are down nearly 20 percent from 2009. The administration should not cheat to improve its record.

Another 40,000 removals also are included in the final deportation count, but it is unclear where these removals came from. Just like any math problem, it’s important to show your work to get full credit. But the Obama administration is missing several steps in its deportation math, and the total doesn’t add up.

Subtract the artificial inflation, and the facts show that the Obama administration is neglecting to enforce immigration laws. The administration has all but abandoned worksite enforcement actions. Over the past three years, worksite enforcement has plummeted by 70 percent. Under this administration, there have been fewer illegal workers arrested, fewer criminal arrests, fewer indictments and fewer convictions. This means illegal workers continue to take jobs away from unemployed Americans.

Without worksite enforcement, we can’t stop employers from hiring illegal workers. As long as the jobs magnet exists, millions of illegal immigrants will come to the United States and take jobs from lawful workers.

Mr. Obama and his administration also have granted blanket amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants. This policy strikes another blow at the millions of unemployed American workers. This massive amnesty allows illegal immigrants to receive work authorization and puts more Americans on the unemployment rolls.

Administration officials also claim that the border is more secure than ever, but the Government Accountability Office says that only 44 percent of the southwestern border is under operational control. That’s a failing grade.

Last year, nearly a half-million people were apprehended trying to enter the country illegally, but those are just the ones we caught. Border Patrol agents estimate that there are three successful illegal entries for every illegal immigrant who is apprehended. That means more than 1 million illegal immigrants cross into the United States every year.

It’s disappointing that the Obama administration continues to put illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of American citizens. Twenty-three million Americans are unemployed or looking for full-time work. Meanwhile, 7 million illegal immigrants have jobs in the U.S. We could free up millions of those jobs for citizens and legal immigrants if we simply enforced our immigration laws.

In a campaign season when administration officials have made a habit of spinning their numbers to ignore their real record, it’s no surprise that they are doing the same with their immigration record. It seems like Mr. Obama is trying to trick the American people into thinking that he is enforcing our immigration laws. But no amount of distorted math can cover up the facts. It’s bad enough that the president has neglected to enforce our immigration laws, but it’s even worse that his administration would falsify figures to deceive the American people.

Rep. Lamar Smith is a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.