Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials today announced the results of Operation Broken Promise. The announcement included the number of those arrested – 180 illegal aliens. The operation targeted those who promised to leave the United States but did not do so.

The illegal aliens violated the terms of their agreement to voluntarily leave the country instead of being deported by ICE. Operation Broken Promise is a national operation in which ICE-deployed officers across the country search for illegal aliens who have failed to leave on their own accord. Illegal aliens receive due process of the law. Once placed into removal proceedings, they have their cases reviewed by immigration judges. During that process, the illegal alien is allowed to request an order allowing them to leave the country. They can ask for the order pre-hearing or litigate their case and then ask for that type of order. This gives the alien permission to leave the country voluntarily. This allows them to avoid a removal order which can carry a 5 – 10 year ban on returning to the United States. The illegal alien is given a date to depart, typically 60 – 120 days, depending on the arrangements, which allows the person the ability to choose the place and time of departure. Plus, they keep the right to return to the United States at some time in the future. ICE sees the policy as a win for both the United States and the illegal alien.

The program, when used properly, reduces litigation costs and personnel needed to remove illegal aliens from the country. It lowers the burden of the court dockets. Despite the privilege of due process and signing a sworn decree, thousands of illegal aliens take advantage of the system and do not follow through on their promise to leave. Shocking, I know. More concerning than the fact that they take advantage of a generous and benevolent country like America, many of them have criminal backgrounds. These crimes include domestic violence, cruelty to children, sexual assault, prostitution, burglary, and drug offenses, according to the press conference held by Tony Pham, acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The operation was a 21-day targeted enforcement operation that resulted in the arrest of 180 at-large illegal aliens throughout the United States. Some former ICE directors grouse that these types of operations are a waste of resources.

“It’s a waste of resources,” said John Sandweg, a former acting director of ICE under the Obama administration. “When you’re targeting on immigration status alone and not on criminal history, you’re wasting resources.”

Is it a waste of resources, though? Doesn’t this kind of enforcement fall well within the job description of ICE? These illegal aliens have been given every opportunity to leave on their own yet they then turned around and went on their merry way without living up to their part of the agreement. They abuse the system. Why shouldn’t they then be rounded up and removed? ICE is working within stricter parameters due to the coronavirus pandemic as it is but some changes are slowly being made.

The agency had limited at-large operations during the coronavirus pandemic, but in late September it changed language on its website to indicate that enforcement would begin again as normal.

In October, Pham led the implementation of a policy that allows officers to arrest and rapidly deport undocumented immigrants who have been in the US for less than two years.

It’s hard to be sympathetic to those who take advantage of the generosity of American taxpayers. Last month ICE performed nationwide sweeps that targeted areas like California that have enacted sanctuary city policies. ICE is focusing on public safety risks during the coronavirus pandemic. The voluntary departure option extended to illegal aliens is a generous policy that should be applauded, not tsk-tsked by former ICE officials.