The Biden administration’s decision to not publish the annual U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Enforcement and Removal Operations Report” — which the agency has published by December 31 for at least the last decade — has become such a scandal that ICE employees have started leaking some of the critical data contained in the report to the media. On Wednesday, the Washington Times published an exclusive article highlighting data shared with it by ICE insiders. The article is worth reading in full.
According to the Washington Times reporting of the unpublished data:
- Under Biden, ICE “arrested 48 percent fewer convicted criminals, deported 63 percent fewer criminals, and issued 46 percent fewer ‘detainer requests to other’ law enforcement agencies” in FY 2021 compared to FY 2020.
- On arrests, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) “made 36,619 administrative arrests of convicted criminals last year — down nearly half compared to 2020, when ERO nabbed 70,607 convicts. Arrests of those with pending charges fell from 22,454 to 8,813.”
- On deportations, ERO recorded “just 39,149 convicts removed in 2021 — down 62 percent compared to 2020, when 103,762 convicts were ousted, and far below the pre-COVID rate of 2019, when 150,141 convicts were removed.”
- On detainers, which are requests to state and local law enforcement to transfer custody of an alien to ICE custody, the numbers “fell dramatically last year, down from 122,233 in 2020 to 65,940.”
- One ICE officer called the arrest and removal numbers “an acknowledgment that ICE officials are being paid not to do their job.”
The Washington Times also reports that the only category of enforcement that increased in FY 2021 was arrests of “other immigration violators”, which are illegal aliens without known criminal convictions or charges on their records. Without an explanation from ICE, it is difficult to understand what this indicates, but it may be that this represents arrests of recent border-crossers, many of whom were likely quickly released into the interior of the United States.
This data stands in stark contrast to the claims released by the Biden administration days prior in an ICE report that provides a topical look at all parts of the agency, including the non-immigration-focused divisions. In that report, the Biden administration claims that ICE arrested "aggravated felons" at a higher rate than the two prior administrations. This claim is entirely political as it is meant to create the impression that the administration's controversial immigration policies are benefitting public safety to a greater extent than the policies in place under the Trump and Obama administrations. But the metric on “so-called aggravated felon arrests” is questionable for a number of reasons. As noted in the Washington Times article:
”That’s not good data. It’s not reliable,” one agency source said. “I can tell you definitively there were more aggravated felony arrests in 2020.” Another ICE source called the arrest data “a shell game with numbers.”
Historically, ICE officers have generally not been keeping track of this aggravated felony metric because it has been largely irrelevant as to whether an alien is deportable, and also because it can be difficult to determine whether criminal acts in an alien’s record count as an aggravated felony. Additionally, the Biden administration has been demanding that officers make it a priority to label arrests as an “aggravated felon arrest” where possible, which naturally is resulting in an increase in cases being labeled as felony arrests, but not necessarily resulting in an increase in actual arrests. The Biden administration’s use of this questionable metric illustrates why Congress must obtain all of the data currently being hidden.
The Washington Times article also includes troubling revelations from ICE insiders:
A third ICE source said officers are being pushed to ignore information in case files in order to avoid making arrests, such as instances where someone was charged with a horrible crime but a victim wouldn’t testify, so a lesser charge was lodged.
Instead, the source said, field office supervisors are rejecting cases that aren’t flashy enough — even cases that would seem to fit under Mr. Mayorkas’ priorities — with an eye to keeping numbers low.
”It’s like telling the highway patrol you can only arrest drunk drivers on a Tuesday if they’re driving a blue F-150 in the right lane,” the source said.
Despite the claim of more “quality” arrests, the Biden administration has no explanation for why other reporting on criminal arrests shows a decrease. Comparing the data contained in the topical report recently released by ICE to the comprehensive ERO enforcement report released in December 2020, the agency tallied 1,506 arrests with homicide-related offenses, down from 1,837 in 2020. Kidnapping-related arrests fell from 1,637 in 2020 to 1,063 last year. Assault-related arrests fell from 37,247 in 2020 to 19,549 last year. Sexual-assault-related arrests dropped from 4,385 to 3,514.
Similarly, according to data on ICE’s webpage regarding the cooperative program 287(g), whereby sheriffs identify criminal aliens in their jails and assist with the transfer to ICE custody, ICE took in fewer criminals through the program in FY 2021 than it did in FY 2020. Arrests of aliens through 287(g) convicted of assault were down 57 percent, for weapons offenses arrests were down 52 percent, arrests of aliens convicted for dangerous drugs were down 49 percent, arrests of aliens convicted of homicide were down 43 percent, and arrests of aliens convicted of sex offenses were down 29 percent.
The Biden administration’s lack of transparency on the impact of its controversial immigration policies suggests it knows the policies are disastrous for public safety. Congress must immediately demand that all data contained in the hidden report be made public. Achieving transparency and accountability through leaks to reporters is not sustainable, it’s unfair to ICE employees, and many questions remain unanswered.