” Most of the people the Border Patrol stopped from sneaking into the country last year were from countries other than Mexico, according to agency statistics, a shift that might have provided fodder for politicians leading up to Tuesday’s election.
But they didn’t get much of a chance. The Border Patrol’s annual statistics were posted on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Web site for about five hours on Oct. 10, then taken down.
Now some are questioning whether that decision was an example of the Obama administration playing politics with public information.
Even before Tuesday, the administration said it was waiting until after the elections to deal with immigration reform so that any losses would not be blamed on the Democrats’ proposal. For some, removing the apprehension statistics — which both parties could use to criticize U.S. immigration laws — was a political move.
“ It worries me that they may have been taken down for purely political reasons,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “If the information is ready, it should be made available.”
But Customs and Border Protection spokesman Christopher O’Neil said in an e-mail that the decision to remove the briefly released data had nothing to do with the midterm elections. Rather, he said, it was an effort to provide all of the agency’s statistics — and not just the Border Patrol’s — “in one concise and comprehensive package.”
He said the agency had intended to publish the data by Oct. 31. But administrative delays in gathering statistics by operational elements caused the date to be pushed back several days. Customs and Border Protection now plans to publish before Nov. 15, he wrote. The early release, he said, was due to miscommunication.”