President Obama has cut in half the number of illegal immigrants “removed or returned” than during the George W. Bush administration, according to a new report that cheers the results.

“Using a broader, more accurate measure of the number of unauthorized immigrants removed from the country since the first year of the Bush presidency, we find that in fact the total number of ‘removals’ and ‘returns’ has actually plummeted during the Obama presidency,” said the report from the progressive group NDN.

“In 2012, the Obama administration removed and returned almost a million people less than the height of the Bush presidency. And every year of the Obama presidency has seen a sizable decline in the total number of unauthorized migrants removed or returned to their countries,” added the report, which rebuffs concerns among immigrants that the president is surging deportations.

A breakdown in the figures, however, finds that they have reason to be concerned. In 2012, the last year calculated, the White House “removed,” or deported, 419,384, more than in any year under Bush, said NDN. In every year of his presidency, there have been more deportations than during the Bush years.

So-called “returns” are when illegals leave the country on their own. “Removals” come at the order of the government, according to the NDN report and explained in footnotes shown below:

“Removals are the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal. An alien who is removed has administrative or criminal consequences placed on subsequent reentry owing to the fact of the removal” (DHS).

“Returns are the confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States not based on an order of removal” (DHS).

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at