More people were deported and interior removals were higher under Obama, but more people were apprehended at the border under Trump.
According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration deported 1.18 million people in his first three years. The number of deportations has been a little under 800,000 until 2019 under Trump. The Post further noted that the Obama administration deported 409,849 people in 2012 alone, while the Trump administration has yet to deport more than 260,000 people in a year. In 2012, immigrant advocates had dubbed Obama as the 'deporter in chief.'
According to the pew research center, the number of migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border rose in fiscal 2019 to its highest annual level in 12 years. The increase in apprehensions has come as a growing number of migrants seek asylum.
Both Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carry out removals or deportations. In fiscal 2018, CBP and ICE together carried out 337,287 removals of unauthorized immigrants, a 17% increase from the previous year. But removals remained below the levels recorded during much of the Obama administration, including three years between fiscal 2012 and 2014 when there were more than 400,000 per year.
Experts have underlined the reason behind why there were more deportations under the Obama administration, compared to Trump's. According to immigration advocates, the Trump administration wants to deport immigrants indiscriminately rather than targeting criminals for deportation, which has slowed its pace. Comparatively, the Obama administration had enforcement priorities, and they were able to streamline deportations. Sophia Genovese, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, told the Washington Post that the Trump administration is making it harder for people to obtain visas or legal status. At the same time, the administration's deportation priority is everyone, which clogs the system. Furthermore, unlike under Obama, deporting the migrants has proved more difficult under Trump. Many of those crossing the southern border have requested asylum, which entitles them to a certain amount of due process in the immigration court system, delaying deportations.
According to the Cato Institute, deportations from the country's interior, meaning away from the border, were on the downswing during most of the Obama administration. Trump has sought to end Obama's program shielding undocumented young people from deportation and has reversed the trend on internal deportations. However, Trump had not reached anywhere near the level of interior removals as the early Obama administration, according to Cato's analysis of data through 2018. ICE is tasked with apprehending unauthorized immigrants in the interior of the country. ICE's number of interior arrests rose 30% in fiscal 2017 after Trump signed an executive order giving the agency broader authority to detain unauthorized immigrants, including those without criminal records. They went up again in fiscal 2018 but decreased in fiscal 2019 and remained far lower than during President Barack Obama's first term. In an annual report detailing its operations, ICE pointed to several factors to explain the decrease in interior arrests in fiscal 2019. Growing enforcement needs at the border compromised ICE's ability to conduct enforcement in the interior. They had to reassign about 350 officers to assist along the border. The report also pointed at the lack of cooperation from an increasing number of jurisdictions nationwide, which have policies to limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities.
Another reason for fewer deportations is that the ICE is holding people longer. Non-criminals are currently spending an average of 60 days in immigrant jails, nearly twice the average stay ten years ago, and 11 days longer than convicted criminals. Between Oct. 1, 2018, and the end of September 2019, the Trump administration initiated more than 419,000 deportation proceedings, more than at any point in at least 25 years, according to government statistics compiled by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
More people were indeed deported under the Obama administration compared to Trump's. Immigration laws under the Trump administration overwhelmed the system, which made it difficult to deport people quickly. Therefore, we conclude that this claim is partly true.