More Criminal Aliens Walk Free at Mayorkas’ Indiscretion
While the Biden administration continues to allow millions of migrants to enter this country, arrests and deportations of criminal aliens have collapsed.
According to the latest data, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests fell from 158,581 in fiscal year 2018 to just 49,396 last year, a 69 percent drop. By the administration’s own admission, more than 400,000 criminal aliens remain on the streets, even as ICE detention beds go empty.
Supposedly prioritizing cases, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in 2021 issued a memorandum that radically curtailed the prosecution and removal of illegal aliens by vastly expanding “prosecutorial discretion.” America is daily reaping the rotten fruits of that disastrous policy.
Though Mayorkas claimed his directive focused enforcement on the most dangerous aliens, the numbers show sharp reductions in ICE arrests of convicted criminals (down 65 percent since 2018); sex assailants (down 33 percent); and kidnappers (down 47 percent). Even homicide-related cases fell 26 percent. So much for targeting the worst of the worst.
FAIR said at the time that Mayorkas’ action marked “a total abandonment of immigration enforcement.” Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies recently concurred: “Under the guise of ‘priorities’ and ‘limited resources,’ [Mayorkas] stifled nearly all immigration enforcement in the interior, granting a de facto amnesty to most aliens, and nearly all serious criminal aliens.”
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security and Enforcement, highlighted the stunning drop in deportations when his panel convened last week:
- In fiscal year 2020 – the last year of the Trump administration — ICE removed 186,000 aliens from the United States. In the second year of the Biden administration, deportations plunged to only 72,000, a decline of more than 60 percent.
- 104,000 convicted criminal aliens were removed in 2020 versus only 38,000 in 2022. Removals of suspected gang members fell by 60 percent during the same period.
- Had Biden & Co. kept pace with the previous administration, some 90,000 more criminal aliens would have been deported during the past two years. (This estimate must be considered conservative given the dramatic increase in illegal alien entries.)
Congress can act by holding Secretary Mayorkas’ feet to the fire and by filling gaps in immigration statutes. One sensible bill would fast-track removals of illegal aliens, including the most troublesome.
Even before Mr. Mayorkas, a loophole in federal law hobbled expedited removal. Legislation by Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, would override a 2004 regulation that arbitrarily limited expedited removal to aliens apprehended within 100 air miles of a land border, and within two weeks of entry.
The “American Safety and Fairness through Expedited Removal Act” (SAFER) would require all aliens who are undocumented, overstayed their visa or obtained fraudulent entry to be placed in expedited removal proceedings, regardless of where they are apprehended. (This is all predicated on DHS agencies actually performing their sworn duties.)
As FAIR noted when the bill was introduced last December: “An expedited removal is an existing tool created by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, but it has only been used on a limited basis.” Significantly, SAFER would bar Mayorkas and his successors from limiting expedited removal through ad hoc memos and administrative actions.
“[Administration] policies might create sanctuaries for criminal illegal aliens, but they are creating a dystopian nightmare for law-abiding citizens and non-citizens alike who must live in them,” McClintock stated.