Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas promises “significant changes” are coming to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), particularly on how the agency measures success. Joe Biden hasn’t quite gotten around to abolishing ICE altogether but instead is approving stringent restrictions on ICE and border patrol agents. Secretary Mayorkas describes his plan as one that will “reorient ICE, not shrink it.”
Mayorkas still insists that the southern border is closed. No rational person believes that nonsensical opinion. Deportations are down to historically low levels, while border crossings are at historically high levels. Biden has been stripping ICE of its authority from the beginning of his administration. In April Biden was confronted by protesters at a rally in Georgia and when they yelled at him to abolish ICE, he pleaded with them to “give me five days.” Biden never specifically explained what that meant.
It is important to keep an eye on Mayorkas and what he does with his department. Mayorkas isn’t a member of Biden’s cabinet that seeks a lot of publicity, he works quietly and avoids facing questions as much as he possibly can. With the crisis at the southern border raging on, this makes it all the more compelling to pay attention to what is going on. He told the Washington Post that he wants to make changes but not shrink ICE staffing or funding.
“I really am focused on it becoming a premier national security and law enforcement agency,” Mayorkas said. “I really want to elevate all of the other work [ICE] does and also ensure that its civil immigration work is well-focused in the service of the national security and public safety mission.”
That approach has translated to a new set of marching orders, or interim priorities, for ICE deportation officers that have significantly scaled back street-level enforcement. Under Biden’s new rules, deportation officers must seek written authorization from senior-level supervisors to arrest anyone who is not a recent border crosser, a national security threat or an aggravated felon who poses a public safety hazard.
Before placing a “detainer” on an immigrant in a jail or prison — essentially asking another law enforcement agency to hold that person until ICE can assume custody — officers must also seek approval from one of the agency’s most senior regional directors.
He is burying ICE officers in paperwork and instructing them to get permission before making arrests or detaining illegal immigrants who have been arrested and put in jail. It is no wonder that ICE officers feel frustrated and question if the Biden administration has their backs. Mayorkas admits the restrictions placed on ICE officers may be too much but he still hasn’t figured out exactly what he will recommend in his final version of ICE priorities due at the end of the month. It looks like he’ll miss his deadline.
“What those changes will be, I am wrestling with right now, quite frankly,” said Mayorkas, who has indicated at times that the current priorities may be constricting ICE officers too much. In recent weeks, he has held town hall events with ICE officers and staff members to solicit their views.
Mayorkas and other Biden appointees say they are determined to use the agency’s limited resources to improve the quality of its law enforcement work, breaking with the notion that success should be measured based on the number of arrests and deportations ICE racks up.
Does Mayorkas inspire confidence in his ability to lead DHS? He claims that changes will be significant yet he hasn’t decided what exactly the changes will be. He sounds as though he is falling into the same trap that Biden and his administration continue to do – they want to abolish everything that can be traced back to the Trump administration whether or not it makes sense to make changes. The Biden administration, especially Joe Biden, wants to make changes for the sake of doing so, not out of necessity. It’s just to own Trump and his administration. We see the fruits of their labor – a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions on the southern border.
Moving the goalposts will not solve the problems that ICE and border patrol agents face on the southern border. If officers are too concerned about being reprimanded for simply doing their job, they will not perform as they should. Arrests will not be made, which, let’s be honest, is the goal here anyway. Biden ran on a platform of ending deportations and giving amnesty to all who are in the U.S. illegally. This is how his administration will carry out those promises – slowly and trying to remain out of the public’s eye. Mayorkas still blames the Trump administration for problems he is facing. If he wasn’t such a partisan hack, he’d admit that Trump’s border policies were working and advise Biden to keep them in place to control the border.
Mark Morgan, former acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), wrote an op-ed for the Washington Times that calls for Mayorkas’ resignation. It won’t happen but Morgan provides a legitimate call for his resignation. Mayorkas is lying to Americans when he says the border is closed. Mayorkas blames the former administration and even goes so far as to claim that it didn’t provide sufficient briefings during the transition. Morgan aggressively denies Mayorkas’ accusations and says more than 200 briefings were provided to the incoming administration.
The truth is the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security alone provided the Biden administration with over 200 briefings during this transition period — with the vast majority of these briefings focusing on border security and illegal immigration. I know this because I was the still the acting commissioner of CBP during the transition.
We explained in great detail the tools, authorities and policies that we developed under the Trump administration, which resulted in significantly reducing the illegal immigration flow and producing the most secure border we’ve seen in our lifetime.
We warned them that if policies like Remain in Mexico and the agreements we had in Central America were ended, we’d see an unmitigated border crisis that would pale in comparison to what we experience in 2019. That we’d see detention facilities overwhelmed. And that we’d see illegal immigration reach historic levels. Mr. Mayorkas and his administration ignored our advice, dismissed the border security experts, and dismantled the entire network of border security tools.
Mayorkas testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, answering questions about his department’s fiscal year 2022 budget request. While the border is in chaos, he continues to insist that violent domestic extremism is the most pressing problem for his department. You can’t make this stuff up.