Data collected by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement yet to be made public reportedly shows the agency deported 63 percent fewer criminal illegal aliens in fiscal year 2021 than in the previous year.
Based on figures obtained from a Homeland Security Department source, The Washington Times reported that ICE has also arrested 48 percent fewer convicted criminals and issued 46 percent fewer detainer requests for other law enforcement agencies.
The large decline comes despite the Biden administration saying it would be prioritizing violent criminals for removal.
The lower number of deportations of criminals also comes after the overall number of removals dropped drastically during President Joe Biden’s first year in office.
ICE removed approximately 185,900 aliens in fiscal year 2020, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and 267,200 in fiscal year 2019.
According to a report released by ICE last week, just 59,000 were removed in fiscal year 2021. That is an all-time low for ICE, about one-third of the previous low of 175,100 in fiscal year 2004, CBS News reported.
Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson touted his agency’s efforts in an introduction to the 2021 report, saying ICE had shifted its enforcement efforts to focus on “the greatest threats to national security, public safety, and border security.”
“[Enforcement and Removal Operations] conducted administrative arrests of 74,082 noncitizens, including 12,025 arrests of individuals convicted of an aggravated felony — nearly double the 6,815 arrests during the prior fiscal year,” he noted.
A top ICE official told reporters last week that “ERO did a magnificent job of having arrests for an average of about 1,034 aggravated felonies per month,” according to the Times.
“That’s about a 53 percent increase of the monthly average for that year over the Obama years and a 51 percent increase over the monthly average in the Trump years,” the official added.
However, multiple sources at ICE said those numbers are misleading, the Times reported.
“Officers previously didn’t bother characterizing many arrests as aggravated felons because there was no reason to. Under the Obama and Trump administrations, they could make arrests without having to cross that threshold,” according to the news outlet.
The Biden administration pushed the agency to show it was focusing on removing violent criminals.
“That’s not good data. It’s not reliable,” one agency source told the Times. “I can tell you definitively there were more aggravated felony arrests in 2020.” Another ICE source described the arrest data as “a shell game with numbers.”
The following month ICE announced new deportation guidelines, prioritizing recent border crossers, aggravated felons and those identified as national security threats.
Multiple states — including Arizona, Ohio and Montana — have sued the Biden administration over its policy, saying officials are neglecting their duty to enforce the law.
The Biden administration has countered by saying it is focused on “quality arrests” of those who pose the “most severe threats to our communities,” according to CBS.
Stephen Miller, former President Donald Trump’s point man on immigration issues, is president of America First Legal, which has challenged Biden’s policies in court.
“These numbers show [the Biden administration’s] entire stated rationale for substantially curtailing ICE enforcement is predicated on a complete falsehood,” he told the Times.
“Far from prioritizing the removal of public safety threats, they are achieving their drastic reduction in removals by freeing public safety threats into the United States.”
Biden receives his lowest marks in polling for his handling of immigration.
A RealClearPolitics average of polls shows just 34.2 percent approve, while 57 percent disapprove.