Posted on May 7, 2021

ICE Deportations Fell in April to Lowest Monthly Level on Record

Nick Miroff, Washington Post, May 5, 2021

The number of deportations carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month fell to the lowest monthly level on record, a drop that comes as illegal border crossings remain at a 20-year high, according to the latest enforcement data, obtained by The Washington Post.

ICE deported 2,962 immigrants in April, according to the agency. It is the first time the monthly figure has dipped below 3,000, records show. The April total is a 20 percent decline from March, when ICE deported 3,716.

President Biden and his Department of Homeland Security team have issued new rules to rein in ICE officers, who were afforded wide latitude under the Trump administration to make arrests and were encouraged to boost deportations.

Biden has resisted calls from activists and some lawmakers to abolish ICE, and his top DHS officials say they will reform the agency and restore its reputation by focusing on criminals who pose public-safety or national security threats. In private, ICE officials say their work is being essentially abolished through restrictions on their ability to make arrests and deportations.


Since Biden changed ICE’s priorities and ordered a 100-day deportation moratorium, interior arrests by ICE officers have plunged more than half, records show. A federal judge blocked the 100-day moratorium in February, and the Republican governors of several states are suing the Biden administration to force a reversal of his ICE directives.

The latest federal data shows ICE has recorded about 37,000 deportations during the past seven months, putting the agency on pace for fewer than 55,000 deportations for the 2021 fiscal year. It would be the first time that figure has fallen below 100,000.

“This administration has de-emphasized the likelihood that people would get arrested if they aren’t a threat to public safety or recently crossed the border, so they are not going to have strong removal numbers,” said Ronald Vitiello, who was ICE’s acting director in 2018 and 2019.

“That’s part of a signal being sent — that immigration enforcement isn’t a priority for this team,” Vitiello said. “The odds of being arrested just for being in the country illegally were always extremely low, and now they’ve basically ruled it out by policy.”

ICE deportations peaked at more than 400,000 in 2013 and averaged about 240,000 during Trump’s first three years in office, far below his pledges to eject “millions” of immigrants from the United States.


{snip} Advocates for immigrants have been pressing the administration to close ICE detention facilities and cancel contracts with the private companies that jail immigrants facing deportation.

The American Civil Liberties Union called on DHS this week to close 39 ICE facilities. {snip}