Joe Biden: Moratorium on Deportations in First 100 Days

Ignorance or indifference by the press? They don't know and they don't care

By Andrew R. Arthur on February 25, 2020
  • Joe Biden has promised a 100-day moratorium on the deportation of aliens in the United States.
  • The number of ICE arrests actually declined by 10 percent in FY 2019 as the agency had to shift resources to respond to the disaster at the border.
  • 86 percent of ICE arrests in FY 2019 were of criminal aliens — including 3,407 with sexual assault convictions, 3,581 with robbery convictions, 1,549 aliens convicted of homicide, and 1,110 with kidnapping convictions. Aliens like those would likely not be arrested during Biden's arbitrary moratorium.
  • The press has largely failed to present an accurate picture of ICE's interior enforcement efforts under the Trump administration.

Last month I described the immigration proposals advanced by the campaign of Joe Biden, current Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president and senator from Delaware. Over the weekend, he put forward a new proposal: "an absolute moratorium on deportations of anyone in the United States for his first 100 days in office if he wins the presidency". Or maybe not, but the press reaction to the underlying policy shows either ignorance or indifference about the true state of immigration enforcement in the United States today.

A Buzzfeed article on this issue contains the following quote, from an unnamed Biden campaign adviser:

"Trump's enforcement actions have been so egregious and indiscriminate, the VP was saying that he would pause and take the time to review the deportation proceedings of those with long-standing ties in the United States, of families with children here, to ensure we are correcting Trump's abuses."

Buzzfeed does not challenge the underlying assertion contained in that quote ("Trump's enforcement actions have been so egregious and indiscriminate ..."), although it is belied by the facts.

In a December 2019 post on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) FY 2019 report, I noted:

The report reveals that ERO's administrative arrests in the interior declined by 10 percent in FY 2019, and its arrests of convicted criminals declined by 12 percent because of its need to reallocate resources (including 350 ERO officers, 6.6 percent of the total force of 5,300) to the border. That said, 86 percent of ERO's arrests were of aliens with criminal arrests and convictions, meaning that most if not all aliens who had simply overstayed their visas had little to fear from ICE enforcement. [Emphasis added.]

This is hardly indiscriminate enforcement. ICE ERO lacks the resources to either "egregious[ly]" or "indiscriminate[ly]" engage in any enforcement actions in the interior. If there were ERO agents running around the country randomly grabbing massive numbers of aliens illegally present, the press would write about them ad nauseam. They haven't, because that is not what ICE is doing. The agency has been so busy responding to events at the border (as the excerpt above makes clear), it has to focus on the worst of the worst in the interior.

I am not talking about some boutique or esoteric (albeit important) issue like crop yields in Nebraska or steel imports to the United States. Immigration enforcement is a cornerstone of the president's reelection campaign, as well as those of most (if not all) of his would-be opponents, as the former vice president's statements show.

With good reason. Immigration affects our communities, our schools, our healthcare system, our economy, and our public safety. And Biden's plan threatens each — especially our public safety.

If there were a moratorium on deportations from January 20, 2021, to April 30, 2021, would that mean aliens under final orders of removal would be arrested but not removed? Likely not. Under section 241(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), ICE has 90 days to remove an alien ordered removed from the United States, or the alien can be released on supervision (subject to terms and exceptions). It would make no sense to arrest and detain removable aliens only to have to release them.

What kind of aliens are we talking about? Well, in FY 2019, ICE ERO arrested 26,156 aliens with assault convictions, 4,658 with convictions for sex offenses, 3,407 others with sexual assault convictions, 3,581 with robbery convictions, 1,549 aliens convicted of homicide, 1,110 with kidnapping convictions, and 743 with convictions for commercialized sexual offenses. This does not include the 49,106 aliens who had been convicted of DUI, or the 47,453 with dangerous drug convictions, or the tens of thousands who were arrested but not convicted for the offenses above. Does anyone really want these criminals hanging around their neighborhoods for an arbitrary 100-day period?

ICE ERO removals are publicly available facts, ones that would inform the public debate over the various candidates' immigration policies. For some reason, however, the press organs of the United States generally ignore them when evaluating those candidates' positions on the issue. It reminds me of the joke about the father taking his son to task for a report card full of Fs: "What is it boy — ignorance or indifference?" To which the son responds: "I don't know, daddy, and I don't care."

Curiously enough, most of the fourth estate takes the same position as the failing schoolboy.

Topics: Politics