Demolish ICE: Deportations hit lowest level on record under Biden

Monday we learned that border encounters in April appear to be slightly higher than those in March, i.e. we’re still at a 20-year high. Today, the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff reports that even as more people are coming to the border, the number of deportations being carried out by ICE have hit record lows. ICE officials say their work is “essentially being abolished” by the administration:

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

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.

President Biden ordered a 100-day moratorium on deportations which took effect on January 22. However, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction a few days later and then extended that injunction indefinitely before it was set to expire. But notice the caveat in this CBS story:

A federal judge late Tuesday indefinitely banned President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations…

Tipton, a Trump appointee, initially ruled on Jan. 26 that the moratorium violated federal law on administrative procedure and that the U.S. failed to show why a deportation pause was justified. A temporary restraining order the judge issued was set to expire Tuesday.

Tipton’s ruling didn’t require deportations to resume at their previous pace. Even without a moratorium, immigration agencies have wide latitude in enforcing removals and processing cases.

Biden couldn’t stop deportations as he’d intended but there was nothing to stop him from slow-walking them. Miroff reports the expected totals for FY21 are going to be a fraction of previous years:

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…

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.

For now, the Biden administration is still ejecting most adults who arrive at the border under Title 42 which he has kept in place from the Trump administration. Title 42 removals don’t count as deportations. But Biden is under pressure to end those removals from those on his left flank so there’s no telling when that might end.

But the bottom line is that we’ve gone from as many as 6,000 to 10,000 ICE deportations per month to around 2,500 under Biden. ICE hasn’t been abolished but it has been demolished from the inside. And you can bet that the message will reach people in Central America that if you can make it across the border into the interior of America, legally or illegally, the chances that you’ll ever be asked for leave are very slim.