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The influx of unauthorized immigrants from south of the Rio Grande over the last few decades has triggered multiple changes in US immigration policy. And these changes have often resulted in tougher measures, deportation statistics tell us.

So, it should come as no surprise that ICE and Border Patrol raids and the conditions in detention centers are often the topics of hard and heated public debates. After all, millions live with the daily consequences.

That’s why at The High Court, we decided to look further into this burning issue and see what the stats have to say about illegal immigration, border apprehension, detention, and deportation. 

Here’s a little preview.

Fascinating Deportation Statistics (Editor’s Picks)

  • 5,010,787 people have been deported from the US between 2003 and 2020.
  • 267,000 people were deported from the US during the 2019 fiscal year.
  • 407,821 people were deported from the US in 2012, the highest number in the last decade.
  • There are over 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.
  • Up to 50,000 people are in detention centers every day.
  • On average, 500,000 immigrants are detained every year.
  • A child can spend anywhere from 30 to 120 days separated from their family in detention.
  • Laredo, Texas, has the highest deportation rates.
  • Border apprehensions rose by 68% from 2018 to 2019.

Deportation Statistics 2020

Deportation is a legal form of removing an individual in violation of US immigration law. Foreign nationals can be removed for violating visa terms, committing a crime, or in case they have been deemed a threat to public safety.

The question is:

How many immigrants have been deported?

1. There were 5,010,787 deportations from the US between 2003 and 2020.

(Source: World Population Review, Trac Immigration)

Observing the increase of US deportations by year, from 2003 to 2018, there were 4,617,463 deportations of foreign nationals from the United States according to deportation stats

By February 2020, this number grew to 5,010,787.

Looking at the number of deportations by year, the highest yearly totals were in 2012 with 407,821 and 2009 with 401,501 illegal immigrant deportations.

2. During the 2019 fiscal year, 267,000 people were deported from the US.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal, ICE)

How many deportations were there in 2018?

Looking at the period from September 2018 to September 2019, the ICE deported about 267,000 immigrants, which is a rise of 4%; 86,000 of those deportations followed an arrest on US territory.

3. During the last decade, the year with most deportations was 2012, with 407,821 removals.

(Source: Trac Immigration)

Here’s the deportation statistics full list of deportations by year, according to ICE data, up until February 2020:

  • 2010 – 383,847
  • 2011 – 391,166
  • 2012 – 407,821
  • 2013 – 368,809
  • 2014 – 319,266
  • 2015 – 235,551
  • 2016 – 240,074
  • 2017 – 220,649
  • 2018 – 249,532
  • 2019 – 262,591
  • 2020 – 112,183

4. Texas has 2,410,613 illegals deported from 2003 to 2020, while New Hampshire has only 5.

(Source: Trac Immigration) 

The full list of deportations by state from 2003 to February 2020:

  • Total –  5,010,787
  • Texas – 2,410,613
  • California – 875,002
  • Arizona – 853,302
  • Louisiana – 301,442
  • Florida – 155,858
  • New York – 107,920
  • Georgia – 107,396
  • New Jersey – 31,376
  • Illinois – 25,888
  • District of Columbia – 25,427
  • Michigan – 15,029
  • Puerto Rico – 12,892
  • New Mexico – 11,094
  • Massachusetts – 9,385
  • Washington – 8,275
  • Virgin Islands – 7,422
  • Pennsylvania – 5,610
  • Minnesota – 2,995
  • North Carolina – 2,732
  • Hawaii – 2,684
  • Colorado – 2,296
  • Guam – 2,279
  • Connecticut – 2,157
  • Maryland – 2,037
  • Nevada – 1,913
  • Ohio – 1,440
  • Oregon – 1,324
  • North Dakota – 1,064
  • Alaska – 954
  • Maine – 929
  • Utah – 855
  • Montana – 801
  • Vermont – 717
  • Outside US – 678
  • Kentucky – 637
  • Tennessee – 424
  • Missouri – 424
  • Northern Mariana Islands – 409
  • Oklahoma – 309
  • Nebraska – 244
  • Rhode Island – 194
  • South Carolina – 178
  • Virginia – 171
  • TRAC unmapped – 117
  • Indiana – 113
  • Idaho – 108
  • Mississippi – 84
  • Wisconsin – 28
  • Alabama – 17
  • Iowa – 15
  • Delaware – 10
  • New Hampshire – 5
  • Unknown – 15,514

5. The city of Laredo, Texas, has the highest deportation numbers from 2003 to 2020 – 477,834.

(Source: World Population Review)

Lookin at state numbers, Texas is undoubtedly the state with the highest numbers of deportations. 

Three cities stand out with staggering removal figures: 

Harlingen deported 271,149, El Paso 283,510, and Laredo 477,834 people, the immigration deportation list shows.

6. Over two million deported individuals between 2003 and 2020 did not receive a conviction.

(Source: World Population Review)

Out of those deported during this period, 2,223,381 didn’t receive a conviction. 

The widest group of convictions is illegal entry, with 401,023 people convicted of this offense, and driving under the influence with 219,256 convictions.

7. President Trump deported 0.83% of the immigrant population per year of presidency, while President Obama removed 1.38%.

(Source: Pew Research, CNN, Cato Institute)

Looking at Obama deportations vs Trump deportations, Obama’s administration removed 1.38%

of the entire population of illegal immigrants already per year of being in office, while Trump did so with 0.83%.


Deportation statistics show Obama’s presidency witnessed a continuous decline in deportation rates by year looking at removals of people without criminal records and those living in the country for years. Trump focused on raising the numbers regardless.

The Migration Policy Institute reports that looking at both removals- ICE deportations– and returns from the border, over 12 million people were returned from the United States while Clinton was in office, and over 10 million during the George W. Bush administration. 

The Obama administration lowered those numbers to 5 million. It focused on returning people with criminal convictions first, along with removing those newly arrived to the country fast, instead of going for people already living in the US.

8. The largest age group to be deported is 18 to 24-year-olds, with 1,048,730 deported from 2003 to 2016.

(Source: Trac Immigration)

The US deportation statistics list of deportations by age, according to ICE Data in January 2016, reads as follows:

  • 0-17 – 40,720
  • 18-24 – 1,048,730
  • 25-29 – 889,389
  • 30-34 – 751,693
  • 35-39 – 550,925
  • 40-44 – 349,335
  • 45-49 – 196,996
  • 50-54 – 100,628
  • 55-59 – 45,548
  • 60-64 – 17,657
  • 65-69 – 6,803
  • 70-74 – 2,179
  • Over 75 – 1,024
  • Unknown – 255

9. Over 55% of Hispanic people worry they, a family member, or a close friend will get deported.

(Source: Vox)

This figure is up from 47% in January 2017.

What’s more:

Illegal immigration stats point out 78% of non-citizen Hispanics worry they will be deported, up from 67% in January 2017, showing psychological effects of increased ICE immigration raids.

[bctt tweet=”Only 46% of Latinos are confident in their place in the US, while 49% report having serious concerns.” via=”no”]

Finally, up to 22% of Latinos report being criticized for speaking Spanish and being told to “go back to where they came from” in 2018.

10. Most of those later deported came from Mexico, nearly 3 million people between 2003 and 2018.

(Source: World Population Review, Forbes, Statista)

Deportation data shows that 2,985,045 deported foreign nationals were from Mexico, 495,447 came from Guatemala, 400,446 from Honduras, and 281,095 from El Salvador.

ICE deportation statistics by country show the next most common countries of origin are the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Nicaragua, and India.

Citizens of India show a rise in US deportation numbers from 296 in 2015 to 831 in 2018, illegal immigration statistics reveal.

11. Up to 54% of Americans think increasing deportations is very or somewhat important, deportation facts confirm.

(Source: Pew Research)

Over half of Americans believe that raising the number of deportations is an important goal and the road to successful immigration policy.

This largely depends on the political views of an individual. 83% of Republicans think so, while around 31% of Democrats believe decreasing illegal immigration numbers is a very important immigration policy goal. Increasing border security is deemed more important, as is improving the lives of those already living in the US to do so legally.

deportation statistics

12. Over 1.1 million Mexicans were deported in Operation Wetback that started in 1954.

(Source: Britannica, History, Immigration History)

During the early 1950s, Mexican laborers were entering US territory in numbers that sparked public reactions. Brought by the Bracero Program the agriculture of the South West heavily depended on in the post-war period, an estimated two million people worked on farms in California, Arizona, and Texas.


President Truman’s Commission on Migratory Labor called it an invasion affecting wages. So, after four years of planning, Operation Wetback began. It would see 1.1 million people captured in raids and deported. 

The name was constructed to mock the crossing of the Rio Grande many had to undertake, and the xenophobic rhetoric that is still used today took hold.

Looking at historical deportation statistics, that was not the first time such a massive number of Mexicans were deported. In fact, over a million Mexicans had already been deported in the 1930s, but the actions taken in 1954 mark the beginning of the process as we know it today.

General Immigration Statistics

13. There are over 40 million immigrants in the US today.

(Source: PewResearch, Fairus, Migration Policy)

Over 40 million immigrants currently live in the United States. That makes for almost one-fifth of all immigrants in the world.

The thing is:

How many illegal immigrants are in the US?

Undocumented immigrants statistics show there were 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the US in 2017, which would be 3.2% of the country’s overall population. This represents a decrease of 14% from 12.2 million in 2007, when the illegal immigrant population made up 4% of the entire US population according to deportation statistics.

The current number of illegal immigrants in the US is estimated to be between 11.3 million and over 14 million.

14. The largest immigrant population can be found in California, 3.4 million. 

(Source: World Population Review)

The states with the largest numbers of immigrants are California, Texas, Florida, and New York. Los Angeles County alone is home to 3.457 million immigrants. California and Texas also host nearly half (45%) of all Dreamers aka DACA recipients.

15. The highest number of illegal immigrants have been in the US for 10 to 14 years.

(Source: Migration Policy)

By years of US residence, those in the country for 10 to 14 years make up for almost a quarter of all illegal immigrants, and those living in the US for 20 years and more up to 20%.

The smallest percentage is of recently arrived illegal immigrants, under 5 years (18%), followed by those living in the US from 15 to 19 years make up 17% of the total.

Finally, around 20% of the illegal immigrant population has been in the country for 5 to 9 years.

16. Around 47% of illegal immigrants are female. 

(Source: Migration Policy) 

According to immigration statistics, 53% of illegal immigrants are male, and 47% are female.

Being undocumented leads to limited access to many basic life necessities. So, up to  53% of illegal immigrants live without access to health insurance, while only 34% own a house.

17. Up to 31% of illegal immigrants are parents with at least one US citizen child.

(Source: Migration Policy)

Observing the parental status in the population over 15, around 31% of illegal immigrants have at least one child who is a US citizen, 7% have noncitizen children under 18, and 63% have no children.

18. Around 40% of immigrants have never been married.

(Source: Migration Policy Institute)

When it comes to marital status, 12% of those facing eventual deportation are married to US citizens, 7% are married to a legal resident, 20% are divorced, separated, or widowed, 21% are married to a noncitizen, and 40% have never been married.

19. Up to 28% of illegal immigrants are not in the labor force.

(Source: Migration Policy Institute)

Taking away jobs and driving down wages has often been the main excuse for mass deportation, but only 67% of illegal immigrants are actually employed. 

What’s more:

28% are not in the labor force. The unemployment rate of those older than 16 is 5%.

20. The Trump administration travel ban caused an 86% drop in the number of immigrant visas given to citizens of the countries covered.

(Source: Vox)

The number of visas given to applicants Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen plummeted after President Trump introduced the travel ban in 2017.

Exceptions are rare, and the process is critiqued as random, nontransparent, and arbitrary.

Altogether, 620,311 applications for green cards, visas, and other legal status, documents were rejected in the 2018 fiscal year

21. 260,000 refugees applied for resettlement in the US in 2018.

(Source: Vox)

The number of people the US has agreed to resettle in 2019 was 30,000. The number agreed upon in 2018 was 44,000. And yet, only 22,491 were actually resettled that fiscal year, a massive 73.5% drop from 2016. The total number of refugees who applied for resettlement in 2018 was 260,000.

22. The smallest percentage of illegal immigrants comes to the US from Africa, only 3%.

(Source: Migration Policy)

Looking at the regions of birth: 

Only 3% of illegal immigrants to the US came from Africa, the same as from the Caribbean. People born in Europe, Canada, and Oceania together make up 5% of illegal immigrants, while South Americans account for 6%.

The second-largest group after Mexico and Central America (67%) is Asia with 16%.

Border Apprehensions and Internal Arrests

23. Looking at deportation numbers by year, there was a slight drop of 10% in immigrant arrests from 2018 to 2019.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post)

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested around 143,000 individuals in 2019. This represents a 10% decline from the year before when the US deported over 156,000 people, according to deportation statistics for 2018.

Out of that number, 92,000 were criminally convicted, most often on the charge of driving under the influence.


This drop in arrests of unauthorized migrants already living in the US is due to the ICE moving its focus to asylum seekers from Central America.

24. The number of apprehensions at the Mexican border doubled between 2018 and 2019.

(Source: Pew Research)

The US-Mexico border has the highest number of apprehensions, Mexico deportation statistics confirm.

Here’s the deal:

Between October 2017 and September 2018, 396,579 people were detained, while from October 2018 to September 2019, the number skyrocketed to 851,508. This is not considered a historic high, though, as the numbers were greater in the early 2000s.

25. The overall number of apprehended or individuals inadmissible at the border increased by 68% from 2018 to 2019.

(Source: ICE)

Even though the arrest number dropped by 10%, the apprehension and the number of those not admitted at the border climbed by 68% in 2019, stats on illegal immigration show.

Additionally, the agency reports over 86% of those arrested were either awaiting convictions or already had them. 

26. US border patrol criminal alien arrests were highest in 2017 when 8,531 people were arrested.

(Source: CBP)

Foreign nationals apprehended by the border patrol who have been convicted of crimes in the US or abroad are criminal aliens if the US law considers the conduct that leads to the conviction a crime.

US Border Patrol reports the following illegal alien criminal statistics showing numbers in criminal alien arrests for the five years up to September 2020

  • 2020 – 2,221
  • 2019 – 4,269
  • 2018 – 6,698
  • 2017 –  8,531
  • 2016 – 12,842

27. Most people apprehended at the border have previously been convicted of illegal entry, a total of 7,060 individuals in 2016. 

(Source: CBP)

What types of convictions are most common with those arrested by the border police?

Most often, these convictions are for Illegal entry or re-entry, though the category is seeing a drop in numbers, illegal alien crime statistics show. Since the 7,060 arrests in 2016, there’s been a gradual decrease: 

  • 2020 – 1,165
  • 2019 – 2,663
  • 2018 – 3,920
  • 2017 – 4,502

28. On average, only three people a year arrested at the border have murder convictions or charges, illegal alien crime stats confirm.

(Source: CBP)

Very low numbers are seen in the homicide/manslaughter category, as the agency reports on average three arrests a year when it comes to those with murder charges according to the ICE deported list.

29. Drunk driving is a very common type of conviction for those arrested by border patrol, the highest number being 2,458 in 2016.  

(Source: CBP)

Driving under the influence is the second category of convictions that come up most often on border arrests and during ICE raids, statistics show. The corresponding figures for the previous few years are:

  • 2020 – 364
  • 2019 – 614
  • 2018 – 1,113
  • 2017 – 1,596

30. Burglary, robbery, larceny, theft, and fraud criminal alien numbers saw a drop from 825 people in 2016 to only 143 in 2020.

(Source: CBP)

Looking at burglary, robbery, larceny, theft, we see a steady drop. There have been 595 cases in 2017, 347 in 2018, 184 in 2019, and 143 in 2020, illegal immigration crime statistics show. The drops in numbers for 2020, though, are likely heavily influenced by the restriction of movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

31. Administrative arrest rates inside the US went up by 30% in 2017.

(Source: Pew Research)

The arrests made inside the country by the ICE saw went up considerably in 2017 after President Trump’s executive order allowing the agency to place in detention those without criminal charges. 

They went up once more in 2018 but declined again in 2019. They’re lower than the rates during President Obama’s first term.

32. 56% of apprehensions at the US-Mexico border in 2019 were of families.

(Source: Pew Research)

Family units are the largest category of apprehended, with 56% of cases in 2019 according to deportation of illegal immigrants statistics. Most of these people came from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. In contrast, Mexicans were the majority of those apprehended during the 2000s and 2010s.


33. 500,000 illegal immigrants are detained in the US every year.

(Source: Detention Watch, PewResearch, National Immigrant Justice Center)

In case you’re wondering how many illegal immigrants are detained per year, the answer is around half a million. 

Check this out:

The average daily population of people detained as immigrants was only 5,000 back in 1994, rising to 19,000 in 2001 before going on to reach a shocking 50,000 in 2019, stats on ICE show.

Up to 71% of those were detained in private detention institutions in 2017.

34. There are on average 44,631 people in ICE custody daily, ICE stats confirm.

(Source: Vox, National Immigrant Justice Center)

Even though Congress has authorized this number to be under 40,000, it’s still climbing, immigration detention statistics reveal.

In 2016, this number was 34,376, which was a record for detentions at the time.

[bctt tweet=”Around 51% percent of those representing the daily population of detention centers are classified as not criminal or not posing a threat.” via=”no”]

35. There were 14,056 unaccompanied minors in government custody in 2019.

(Source: Vox)

The number of children held without parents was 9,000 in 2016, while in 2019 it reached 14,056. This is due to the longer period of time children now spend before being placed with sponsors rather than a rise in family separation.

Over 2,737 children were separated from their families in 2018, while the definite number of separated children released to sponsors is unknown.

36. On average, a child spends 59 days in custody before reaching a sponsor.

(Source: Vox, National Immigrant Justice Center)

In 2016 this time was significantly shorter – 35 days

The current average wait for an unaccompanied child is 59 days, as relatives are now at greater risk of deportation if they try to step in and sponsor the child themselves. In some cases, however, the amount of time is between 100 and 240 days, statistics on ICE show.

37. There are over 699,350 people DACA recipients.

(Source: Vox, NILC)

Temporary protection from deportation under the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was the subject of a court case that resulted in the Supreme Court overturning the Trump administration’s attempt from August 2018 to end the program.

By June 2020, nearly 700,000 people faced losing their legal protection. Additionally, there 200,000 US citizen children with one or both parents included in the program. 

38. ICE is the only agency that is seen as more negative than positive by the public – 54% of people see it as negative

(Source: Pew Research, ICE)

How many ICE agents are there? 

ICE statistics show the total number of ICE agents includes 20,000 law enforcement and support staff in over 400 offices on US territory and the rest of the world.

[bctt tweet=”Around 46% of Americans have a favorable opinion about the ICE, while the other 54% heavily criticize it. ” via=”no”]

This view is also influenced by an individual’s political stance, as 70% of Republicans have a positive opinion of the agency compared to only 19% of Democrats.

The Bottom Line

The latest deportation statistics are grim enough. It’s clear the process and the methods need to be improved. 

While inevitably unpleasant and life-altering for those on the receiving end, the deportation process does not have to be inhumane or driven by a xenophobic narrative. That’s why these issues are some of the hottest topics today. 


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