This study documents and explains historical variation in U.S. criminal deportations. Results from time-series analyses suggest that criminal deportations increase during times of rising unemployment, and this effect is partly mediated by an elevated discourse about immigration and labor. An especially strong association between deportations and unemployment emerges from 1941 through 1986, a period in which the federal law enforcement bureaucracy and deportation laws were well established and judges retained substantial discretion. After 1986, changes in criminal deportation rates mirror the trend in incarceration rates. The study connects the burgeoning sociological literatures on immigration and punishment, revealing a historically contingent effect of labor markets on the criminal deportation of non citizen offenders.