ICE’s Annual Report Highlights Open-Borders Agenda
FAIR Take | January 2024
While 2023 saw a record number of illegal border-crossers, it was also a record year for lax enforcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is responsible for administering U.S. immigration laws. In 2023 year-end report, ICE confirms what we knew: the Biden Administration is not only engaging in mass catch-and-release, but it did not arrest, prosecute, detain, or remove as many people in 2023 as previous administrations did —in years with far fewer encounters. The shocking statistics help paint a fuller picture of the open-border agenda that President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have implemented.
A Whopping 6.2 Million Illegal Aliens on the Non-Detained Docket
One of the biggest data points from the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 ICE annual report is the number of illegal aliens on the agency’s national docket, which neared 6.2 million aliens at the end of September. ICE is responsible for managing this population, and on average, only 28,289 illegal aliens are detained in ICE facilities (whether owned or contracted).
Those on the “non-detained” docket include aliens who are in removal proceedings or subject to final orders of removal. This population of illegal aliens may or may not be checking in with ICE on a routine basis, and in many instances, ICE barely knows their whereabouts. The number on the non-detained docket, i.e. those roaming freely in the U.S., has skyrocketed to 6.2 million under Biden and Mayorkas, up from 3.26 million in FY 2020. In fact, the number of those on the non-detained docket increased by a shocking 1.44 million over the last year alone.
Of the 6.2 million illegal aliens ICE is responsible for, nearly 1.3 million have a Final Order of Removal. A Final Order of Removal indicates that the alien has completed the legal process and has been ordered to leave or be removed by a judge. Unbelievably, many illegal aliens who have final orders of removal are still allowed to work with an employment authorization card issued by DHS.
Dismal Number of Removals
In FY2023, more than 3.2 million illegal aliens were encountered at our borders. That’s more than 8,700 illegal aliens encountered on average each day – and on some days, DHS encountered more than 12,000 illegal aliens. ICE is responsible for removing these illegal aliens, especially when they are ordered removed by an immigration judge. However, during 2023, the agency was also forced to help Customs and Border Protection manage those surges and transport the illegal aliens. The Biden Administration has a dismal record when it comes to removals – only effectuating about 91,000 on average each year over the last three years. In FY2023, Biden and Mayorkas removed 142,580 illegal aliens – an increase of 97.5% compared to FY2022.
While some open-border advocates will claim that the Biden Administration has removed more illegal aliens than that of President Trump, it’s important to note that they count aliens who have been expelled under Title 42 authority – the authority they abhorred and fought. However, removals are different from expulsions under Title 42. A removal is counted after a person has exhausted his or her options in the immigration process. Expulsions conducted under Title 42 means they were encountered at the border and immediately processed for return. Further, Title 42 expulsions were slightly higher under Biden, especially at the beginning for various reasons, including the fact that the courts made DHS keep Title 42 in place, and the number of people attempting to enter was much higher than under President Trump.
Removals are Down Because the Biden Administration Refuses to Detain Illegal Aliens
It makes common sense that when aliens are detained, they must show up for their court date and they will be located for removal once an order is issued. However, the Biden Administration and its “abolish ICE” allies have attempted to eliminate detention altogether and instead rely on “Alternatives to Detention” to allow illegal aliens to freely move about the United States. This has resulted in fewer removals. The number of aliens detained at the end of the fiscal year reached 36,845. Although an increase of 40.1% over 2022, it is well below the peak of 55,000 reached under the Trump Administration.
The number of detainers issued by ICE has also dropped under the Biden Administration. In FY2018 and FY2019, ICE lodged more than 177,000 and 165,000 detainers, respectively. Detainers are requests sent by ICE to local law enforcement agencies, asking that the local jurisdiction hold an alien until ICE can assume custody, usually within 48 hours. As stated in the report, “detainers are critical public safety tools” and, especially when lodged against criminal offenders, “detainers increase the safety of all parties involved.” Nevertheless, the Biden Administration is not maximizing the use of this tool.
Interior Arrests Are Down as ICE Officers are Forced to Move to Border
As stated in the report, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) within ICE focuses on immigration-related law enforcement in the interior of the United States. “However, during the past several years, ICE has detailed significant numbers of ERO personnel to support DHS efforts to manage irregular migration at the Southwest Border, including case processing and ground and air transportation for noncitizens who are initially apprehended by CBP.” In 2023, DHS forced more than 1,300 employees to support border management efforts – accounting for a whopping 17% of its workforce. This may help to explain why arrests, prosecutions, and removals have decreased over the years.
While the number of arrests increased from 2022 to 2023, the number of criminal aliens arrested by ICE has decreased by far more on average since 2018. In FY2018, more than 138,000 aliens with pending charges or convictions were arrested by ICE. In FY2023, fewer than 74,000 aliens with pending charges or convictions were arrested.
In its report, ICE explains the criminal charges and convictions of those illegal aliens it arrested. Of those arrested, many had committed serious crimes, some of which are highlighted below:
*To see the entire list, view page 14-15 of the ICE report.
Enforcement is Down, Taxpayer Funded Healthcare and Benefits are Up
The ICE annual report, while painting a stark picture of the state of immigration enforcement in 2023, also tells another story – that is, the movement by the Biden Administration to turn ICE into a welfare agency. As previously detailed by FAIR, DHS has expanded and created new “Alternatives to Detention” programs that direct taxpayer funds towards social services, rather than enforcing the law.
In 2023, ICE launched the Young Adult Case Management Program (YACMP) to assist 18- and 19-year-olds throughout the immigration process and facilitate access to community resources, such as therapy, transportation and legal orientation programs. Through this program, ICE enrolled 4,128 aliens and made more than 10,000 referrals to various social service organizations.
Additionally, ICE spent over $352 million for the Health Service Corps, which provides direct healthcare at ICE-owned facilities and reimburses providers for off-site services. The budget for the Health Service Corps has increased over the years, with nearly $315 million provided in FY20, $316 million in FY21, and $324 million in FY22.
Conclusion: Biden Administration is Using ICE to Further its Open-Borders Agenda
Given the statistics, it is clear that the Biden Administration’s lax approach to immigration enforcement is fueling the border crisis and is part of its plan to ensure no illegal alien is deported, or at least as few as possible. From arrests to detainers, detention to removals, the system is broken because the tools to carry out the agency’s mission are not being utilized. In order to have a system that works and to deter illegal immigration, President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas must change their (non-)approach to enforcement and start utilizing the men and women of ICE to protect the homeland.