Most Removed Immigrants Not Criminals, Data Shows

us-deportationThe numbers of illegal aliens facing removal from the United States has been on the rise since 2001. In the past 8 years there has been a 40% increase in the number of aliens removed (deported) from the United States. 

I was curious of the most common causes for removal. According to LegalMatch.com intake reports compiled from thousands of client entries in the past 12 months, these are the most common reasons cited for removal from the U.S.:

  • Convicted of a crime: 42%
  • In the United States illegally: 40%
  • Visa has expired: 16%
  • Not paid taxes: 1%

A lot of squabbling goes on in the media and the blogosphere about whether an “illegal immigrant” is actually a criminal. The point of these “debates” is usually to score quick political talking points.

Contrary to popular belief however, mere unauthorized presence in the United States is not always a crime. The above poll matches Homeland Security data showing that in fact, the majority of aliens removed from the United States were not criminals. According to Department of Homeland Security statistics for 2007, only 31% of immigrants removed were actually convicted of a crime.

Although removal can subject one to criminal sanctions, the majority of removal cases are limited to civil penalties or based on breaches of administrative laws. When an immigrant is removed without criminal consequences it is incorrect to really refer to this person as a “criminal.” The “illegal aliens are criminals” talking point is nonetheless often used to somehow justify the mass jailing and deportation of illegal aliens, but it rings hollow when statistics show that the rule being broken by most of these people is mere unauthorized presence. According to the above statistics, it would be incorrect to assume that more than 42% of those immigrants facing removal are in fact criminals.

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