Posted on February 23, 2021

Homeland Security Plans to Gut Immigration Enforcement Arm

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, February 21, 2021

The Biden administration might not need to abolish ICE. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has floated a plan to reorganize the federal deportation agency to the point where it’s not doing much arresting and deporting from inside the country anymore.

Mr. Mayorkas revealed his idea last week in a telephone meeting with agency personnel in Texas, according to several sources familiar with the conversation, who said he proposed taking members of the country’s 4,000-strong deportation force off the streets and converting them into criminal investigators.

They would no longer be focused on enforcing laws against illegal presence, which would have the effect of slashing arrests and deportations.

Deportation officers said it would be akin to a city police department converting its beat cops to detectives, leaving nobody to patrol the streets for basic crimes.

“This is an administrative abolishment of ICE as we currently know it,” one source told The Washington Times.


Tae Johnson, acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was also part of the conversation and agreed with Mr. Mayorkas’ direction, one source said.

What exactly Mr. Mayorkas is planning is not clear. He told those in the meeting that he thought deportation officers are under the wrong pay scale but did specifically promise a raise.


Mr. Mayorkas’ plan dangles what he sees as a promotion to officers, offering the rank of agent, to get them on board with his plan to sharply curtail deportation enforcement efforts.

But the officers who were part of the conversation expressed concern that they were being pushed out of the jobs they signed up for, one source said.

“It’s all spin,” the source said. “We’re not going to abolish ICE, but we really are going to abolish ICE as you know it.”


Only a tiny percentage of immigration offenders are prosecuted criminally, and most of those are border cases, said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stricter immigration controls.

{snip} Shifting deportation officers’ duties away from administrative enforcement means deportations will plummet without any need for complicated directives or a full abolition of the agency.

Ms. Vaughan said there are consequences.

“By eliminating the option of removing people on administrative charges, Mayorkas will be eliminating ICE’s ability to enforce immigration laws, and as a side effect, eliminating ICE’s ability to use its immigration authorities to target all manner of criminals, smugglers, gang members, fraudsters and any other illegal alien who is causing problems here,” she said.


Converting officers into criminal investigators undermines that system, she said, effectively “setting ICE up to fail in its mission.”