(ICE photo)

FY 2020: ICE Annual Report Highlights Operational Successes in Year Shrouded by COVID-19

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Wednesday the agency’s fiscal year 2020 annual report numbers, highlighting trends that underscore the administration’s focus on enforcing immigration laws and leading investigations that threaten or exploit the customs and immigration laws of the United States.

“The men and women who represent ICE have risen to the challenges presented this fiscal year, including the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tony Pham. “A prime example of our agility as an agency as a direct operational pivot to COVID-19 was our ability to return more than 1,000 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who were stranded abroad as airports began to shut down because of the pandemic. This is but one example of ICE’s nimble efforts to complete our mission, serve our country and safeguard the homeland and her citizens. The cumulative efforts made this year are a tribute to our exemplary workforce, who, despite professional and personal challenges presented by the pandemic, have remained committed to their sworn duty to protecting the interests of the United States and her people.”

In FY 2020, ICE continued to focus its enforcement efforts on aliens who pose a threat to public safety. ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted 103,603 arrests, just under 30% fewer than in fiscal year 2019 – largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Approximately 90% of those arrested had a criminal conviction or charge. Those arrested included aliens with criminal charges or convictions for 1,837 homicide offenses, 37,247 assault offenses, and 10,302 sexual assault or sex offenses. ICE ERO conducted 185,884 removals. The vast majority of ICE ERO’s interior removals – 92% – had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) remained focused on protecting the homeland from transnational crime and threats. In FY 2020, HSI made 31,915 arrests of criminal violators, seized over 1.4 million pounds of narcotics, confiscated 6,688 weapons, conducted 3,671 gang-related criminal arrests and identified and rescued 1,012 victims of child exploitation and 418 victims of human trafficking.

The fiscal year brought new challenges stemming from COVID-19. In March 2020, ICE convened a working group of medical professionals, disease control specialists, detention experts, and field operators to identify enhanced steps to minimize the spread of COVID-19. As a result of the working group, ICE reduced the detained population, setting a target of 70% of population capacity for its dedicated facilities, exceeding CDC guidelines of 75%. In FY 2020, ICE executed a budget exceeding $315 million on medical, dental, and public health services for 99,670 detainees nationwide.

Additionally, the pandemic led to new criminal activity. ICE launched Operation Stolen Promise in April 2020 to combat the increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19 related fraud and criminal activity. As a result, in FY 2020, HSI and its law enforcement partners made 1,396 COVID-19 related seizures, 132 criminal arrests and more than $18 million of disrupted transactions and recovered funds.

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected a great number of Americans abroad. Many Americans found themselves stranded outside of the United States with very limited options available to return. ICE, working with the U.S. Department of State, flew home a total of 1,057 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) on the return leg of removal flights via ICE Air Operations. U.S. citizens and LPRs occupied the space available seats on flights to the United States.

Despite the challenged posed by a global pandemic, the more than 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel located in over 400 offices in the United States and abroad, carried out the agency’s mission of enforcing our country’s immigration laws and investigating transnational threats to national security. ICE personnel will continue to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten public safety.

ICE will analyze current policies and the results of FY 2020 programs, making improvements that enable more effective execution of the mission entrusted to our personnel by more than 400 federal statutes. The focus will continue targeted enforcement, preventing terrorism and combatting the illegal movement of people and goods.

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