Dear Mr. President,
When you swept into office in 2008 on the backs of many immigrant voters, your promises of comprehensive immigration reform were glorious. Yet, in the five years since holding the post as president and commander-in-chief, your administration has deported more than 3 million immigrants to Latin America and the Caribbean alone, the most of any U.S. president and the most to any region on Earth.
The total stands at 3,526,719, according to newly released Department of Homeland Security data. The majority was sent back to Mexico for the period of 2009-2013 alone—a total of 2,774,468. But even before the crisis at the border involving Central Americans, a large number of migrants from this region were also being deported in droves back to their home nations.
Guatemala received a whopping 246,444 migrants back from the U.S. in the five years since you took office, while Honduras saw 211,519 deportees during the same period and El Salvador 175,506.
By contrast, Central America received fewer deportees under the George W. Bush administration. Some 122,938 were sent back to Guatemala in the five years before you took office, while 177,747 were deported to Honduras and 155,231 to El Salvador—almost 200,000 less than current totals.
No other nations in Central America or Latin America received as many deportees since you took office, but the numbers were also higher for other Caribbean and Latin nations than when Bush was president. Some 23,212 immigrants were sent packing back to the Dominican Republic between 2009 and 2013 alone—the highest for any Caribbean country and the fifth highest for any nation in the Americas. Dominican Republic deportees totaled 19,522 under Bush.
Cuba received 20,503 deportees in the past five years to come in at number six, while Brazil took the seventh spot in the Americas with 14,287 deportees sent back over the years that you have held the reins of the United States.
Jamaica rounded out the Americas for most deportees since you took office, with 13,803 between 2009 and 2013. Before that, under Bush, the total between 2004 and 2008 stood at 7,775, proving that under your administration, the number has almost doubled.
The only nations receiving more deportees under Bush than you were Mexico and Cuba. The number of deportees to Mexico was more, with 5,031,687 deported between 2004-2008, while 22,811 were sent back to Cuba.
While you have consistently insisted you support immigration reform, your actions on the deportation front have resulted in many of your base turning away in disgust. A Pew Research Center study says that Hispanics have expressed disapproval of the growing number of deportations during your administration, and 6 in 10 Hispanic adults say the increased number of deportations of unauthorized immigrants is a “bad thing.” Your delay in making immigration changes on your own, starting from end of summer until, now, after the November midterm elections, is also a source of discontent.
Last Thursday night, Oct. 2, you tried your best to explain to a roomful of wary Hispanic supporters at the Hispanic Congressional Caucus Institute Gala again that you are really on their side, stating, “I am not going to give up this fight until it gets done.” But to the protestors picketing outside, the time for promises are over. Their message on the picket lines said it all: “Immediate relief from deportation.”
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.