Argument: Deporting 13 million illegal immigrants is not possible

Issue Report: Deporting illegal immigrants in the US


“Deporting illegal immigrants problematic.” September 18th, 2004: “SAN DIEGO – Thirteen government agents pile into unmarked sport utility vehicles and dark sedans in the basement garage of downtown’s federal building. Their assignment: Crash the homes of 16 illegal immigrants and deport them.

It is an increasingly common scene across the nation. The federal government wants to catch the nearly half-million immigrants who either have ducked deportation orders or are targets for removal because they were convicted of a crime.

The size and complexity of the mission is staggering. Even as the government pours millions into enforcement, each year the number of new fugitives far exceeds the number of immigrants removed.

One spring evening in San Diego shows why.

The agents are eager to start knocking on doors: Each wears a bulletproof vest with “POLICE” emblazoned on back or a blue Department of Homeland Security jacket. But only four are full-time agents with Fugitive Operations, a unit founded in 2002 to track these immigrants – the other nine either work days processing deportation orders or are Border Patrol agents on overtime. The cobbled-together teams have five hours to finish the job.

By night’s end, they’ve apprehended six of their 16 targets, with a seventh picked up the next morning. Given that the teams fan out just several times a week, it’s barely a dent in the region’s backlog of 5,000 cases.”