Cooking the books

The Washington Post reports:

In reaching 392,862 deportations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement included more than 19,000 immigrants who had exited the previous fiscal year, according to agency statistics. ICE also ran a Mexican repatriation program five weeks longer than ever before, allowing the agency to count at least 6,500 exits that, without the program, would normally have been tallied by the U.S. Border Patrol.

When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency still was in jeopardy of falling short of last year’s mark, it scrambled to reach the goal. Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal e-mails and interviews show.

Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said. . . A voluntary return doesn’t bar a foreigner from applying for legal residence or traveling to the United States in the future. . .

The surge to break the deportation record in the final weeks of the fiscal year consumed the agency, said a high-ranking immigration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

“They had everyone burning the candle at both ends to reach 390,000,” the official said. “They were basically saying anything you can do to increase the overall removal number, that’s what you should do – over everything else.”

In summary, the ICE’s record number of deportations was in part due to creative accounting, and in part due to weakened enforcement.

And then the administration lied about it:

But at a news conference Oct. 6, ICE Director John T. Morton said that no unusual practices were used to break the previous year’s mark.

“When the secretary tells you that the numbers are at an all-time high, that’s straight, on the merits, no cooking of the books,” Morton said, referring to his boss, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “It’s what happened.”

(Via Instapundit.)

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