In light of the news that an African-American teenager from Dallas Texas was mistakenly deported, President Obama’s immigration and deportation policies have come under scrutiny.
Jakadrien Turner ran away from her Dallas home at 14 years old. After getting arrested in Houston, Turner gave officials a fake name that coincidentally belonged to an undocumented immigrant. Immigration officials swiftly deported Turner to Bogota, Columbia where she has been since April of 2011.
It is only now, after tireless efforts by Turner’s grandmother, that we are learning about this horrible story. This mistaken deportation has put a spotlight on the issue of immigration and deportation in President Obama’s first three years in office.
According to Pew Research Center 59 percent of Latinos are opposed to the Obama administrations deportation policies.
While Republicans frequently make the claim that Democrats are not tough enough on illegal immigration, the Obama administration has actually deported 30 percent more undocumented immigrants annually than during the second term of George W. Bush. Since 2009, the Obama administration has averaged nearly 400,000 deportations per year.
Despite such a high level of dissatisfaction in his deportation policies, polling does not show that the Latino vote is in jeopardy for the president’s 2012 re-election efforts. Obama still beats his performance among Latino voters when compared to his share of that electorate in 2008 and there are 1 million more registered Latino voters than there were four years ago.
In a match up with Mitt Romney or any of the other possible challengers, Obama still wins out. Against Mitt Romney, President Obama wins 68 percent of the Latino vote to Romney’s 23 percent.
The polling shows that Latino voters are concerned about the same issues as all other segments of voters. In a recent Fox News interview, Lili Gil, a Latino affairs expert said, “There are plenty of data and reports that are suggesting that the same issues that are impacting America today and are concerns in everybody’s household is the same for Latinos,” Gil said. “It is education, jobs and health care.”
Gil went on to explain that while there is an assumption that immigration or the Dream Act are the top issues among immigrant communities, but it’s actually recovering from the economic downturn that is the leading concern similar to all other segments of the country.
With the mistaken deportation of Jakadrien Turner becoming a national story, the high level of Obama era deportations is now on everyone’s radar. Immigration has been a hot topic during the Republican debates with each of the candidates battling to move to the right of each other and be even harder, much harder than Obama, on the undocumented.
With Republicans mainly focused on securing the border and Democrats more focused on a path to citizenship, the debate is ongoing as to which of these two competing immigration priorities is more important.
In the end, deportations may not be a deciding factor in the race for the White House in 2012, but it’s certainly a topic that will get a lot of attention in the coming weeks as the NAACP and the CBC have called upon the Obama administration to help assist in the immediate release and return of Jakadrien Turner from Columbia.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @zerlinamaxwell