Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, June 24, 2022
Federal prosecutors are quietly dismissing stacks of cases against illegal immigrants under a Biden administration mandate that could be on pace to effectively pardon 1 million people by 2024, according to leaked information reviewed by the Washington Examiner.
Attorneys for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have begun to throw out tens of thousands of the 2 million backlogged cases in immigration court following a political appointee’s order not to go after illegal border crossers from before the November 2020 election.
“This is a de facto amnesty,” said an ICE federal prosecutor who spoke with the Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity.
The Washington Examiner obtained leaked video recordings of virtual meetings that Kerry Doyle, ICE’s principal legal adviser, held with the more than 1,200 ICE prosecutors who bring cases against illegal immigrants nationwide, in which she explained in detail who should not be targeted for deportation. Illegal immigrants identified as national security and public safety threats, or those who had crossed the border illegally after Nov. 1, 2020, would be the only cases ICE would pursue. All others would be dropped.
Doyle’s mandate to close out cases took effect on April 25. An indicator of how quickly ICE has moved is the number of cases wiped out in those two months. Between 60,000 and 80,000 cases have been closed, according to the ICE attorney. The total case closures since the start of fiscal year 2022 last October is more than 97,000, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research organization at Syracuse University in New York. Case closures eight months into 2022 are already up fourfold from all of 2021, another sign of how quickly ICE prosecutors are moving to clear the books.
If the agency’s 1,200 prosecutors keep the current pace of 60,000-80,000 case closures every two months, ICE could hit 360,000 to 480,000 closed cases by next April and 1 million by early summer 2024, months before the presidential election.
Doyle cited the change in policy as a means of addressing the court backlog, which has exploded from 522,000 in 2016, according to Migration Policy Institute data.
And while the change stops short of the left-wing goal of abolishing ICE, the Biden administration policy has severely undercut the immigration law enforcement agency, ICE insiders told the Washington Examiner.
“Congress hasn’t passed it, but [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas’s chief lawyer at ICE is telling all prosecutors to dismiss cases. Once it’s dismissed, they’re not required to check in with you anymore,” said the ICE federal prosecutor who spoke with the Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity.
Information reviewed by the Washington Examiner shows a limited number of cases won’t be dismissed under the new policy. Fewer than 50 cases fall under the national security priority and no more than 25,000 would be deemed a public safety threat. Illegal immigrants with criminal records would not be automatically considered a public safety threat. A person who had been previously deported and then arrested for illegally crossing the border again would also not be deemed a public safety concern, Doyle said.
Tens of thousands of noncitizens who have been cleared from the immigration court dockets over the past eight weeks may now apply to become permanent legal residents, the prerequisite to becoming a citizen. An illegal border crosser is barred from applying for legal permanent residency as long as his or her case is pending in court. With no case pending, they may apply through a DHS agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to have their prior illegal presence waived.