(ICE photo)

ICE Leader Blames Border Surge, Local Jurisdictions for 10 Percent Drop in Arrests

Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested about 143,000 individuals in fiscal year 2019, a nearly 10 percent drop from the previous fiscal year, according to new ICE statistics.

Acting Director Matthew Albence blamed “the border crisis, coupled with the unwillingness of some local jurisdictions that choose to put politics over public safety” for making it “more difficult for ICE to carry out its congressionally mandated interior enforcement mission.”

“Despite our significant challenges, and as evidenced by the tremendous work of the professional men and women of ERO, ICE remains committed to removing dangerous, recidivist criminals from our communities and restoring integrity to the nation’s immigration system,” Albence said in statement released with the FY19 numbers Wednesday.

According to the agency, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) removed 267,258 people from the country, an increase from 256,085 removals in FY 2018. Eighty-five percent had previously been detained by ICE before the arrest that led to deportation.

“During FY 2019, a much greater percentage of ICE’s removals stemmed from an initial apprehension by CBP (68 percent) rather than an arrest by ICE (32 percent). In comparison, during FY 2018, removals stemming from a CBP apprehension accounted for 63 percent and removals stemming from an ICE arrest accounted for 37 percent,” said the report. “This is consistent with other shifts in ICE workload resulting from the crisis at the Southwest Border during FY 2019.”

ICE reported a 110 percent increase in the deportation of members of family units as compared to the previous year. Customs and Border Protection reported 473,682 family unit members apprehended this year, a record high accounting for 64.5 percent of all apprehensions at the southwest border. During FY19, ICE released about 200,000 of those apprehended family members from custody and booked 37,906 in its three family residential centers.

Eighty-six percent of ICE’s ERO arrests — 123,128 people — involved migrants with pending criminal charges or convictions, the report said. Of those arrests, 92,108 had previous criminal convictions — a decline from 105,140 in FY18 — and 31,020 had pending charges. An additional 19,971 arrested by ERO had a record of other immigration violations, including failure to heed notices to appear.

Traffic offenses comprised the bulk of both convictions and pending charges, with 49,106 DUI convictions and 28,519 pending traffic offenses not including driving under the influence. Other leading crimes were drug offenses, assault, obstruction and larceny. In smaller numbers were property crimes, sex offenses and weapons charges. As far as homicides, 1,549 of those deported had a previous conviction and 374 had pending charges.

The number of detainers issued by ICE, requesting that local jurisdictions notify DHS before an individual is released from custody, decreased by 7 percent from FY18 to FY19. “Like other decreases in interior enforcement activity, this was impacted by the diversion of resources to the Southwest Border as well as limited detention space,” the report said, adding that more jurisdictions were also not cooperating with ICE.

“While CBP apprehensions decreased somewhat toward the end of FY 2019 from their peak during the months of May, June, and July, sustained high levels of migration over the course of several years have severely taxed ERO’s ability to execute key aspects of its mission,” the report concluded. “ICE projects that until fundamental changes are made to the immigration enforcement process – including legislation that addresses current legal loopholes that incentivize high levels of illegal migration – the crisis situation at the border will continue, and the hundreds of thousands of cases that began during FY 2019 will continue to impact the entire immigration system for many years to come.”

GAO: ICE Detentions of Transgender, Pregnant, and Disabled Individuals Increase; More Data Sought

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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