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The Obama administration claims near-record numbers of deportations. In fact, once again government agencies — in this case the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — have mysteriously changed the way they compile statistics. ICE now counts as deportations those foreign nationals whom the Border Patrol immediately stops or turns away at the border. Such detentions were not previously counted as deportations.

The result is that bureaucrats can report near-record numbers of deportations, while privately assuring the administration that immigration enforcement has been greatly relaxed.

There is a pattern here. Changes in data collection seem to have a predictable result: Inflation and unemployment rates become lower. Economic growth becomes greater. The IRS focuses on government skeptics. Obamacare is not in trouble. Illegal immigration is not such a problem.

If the people increasingly believe that bureaucrats try to alter reality to reflect preconceived ideologies or the goals of the particular regime in power, then America as we know it is finished.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.