New Data Reveal Biden’s DHS is Forcing Sheriffs to Release Countless Criminal Aliens

By Jon Feere on February 14, 2022

The dangers of the Biden administration’s handling of immigration law enforcement continue to be revealed, and the latest evidence is found in new 287(g) data posted on The 287(g) program allows sheriff’s departments to enter into partnerships with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and receive training on how to identify illegal aliens within state and local jails. The program is a critical law enforcement tool because local law enforcement routinely jails illegal aliens but may not be aware of an individual’s immigration status without access to 287(g) training and systems. The program has resulted in thousands of criminal aliens being transferred to ICE custody.

Despite the significant public safety benefits of the 287(g) program, the Biden administration does not support it. In 2021, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas canceled a successful 287(g) agreement with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts, which had facilitated the identification of illegal aliens arrested for child rape, assault, strangulation, arson, attempted murder, armed carjacking, breaking and entering, and identity theft, to name a few crimes. Criminal aliens with these backgrounds are no longer being identified by that sheriff’s office, which means violent offenders are being released back into our communities where they will almost inevitably cause more harm.

Sheriffs across the nation have been reporting to the Center for Immigration Studies that the Biden administration has been refusing to take custody of most criminal aliens identified through 287(g), forcing sheriffs to release countless criminal aliens back onto the streets. Now, new numbers for Fiscal Year 2021 reveal that the Biden administration’s immigration policies have resulted in fewer dangerous criminal aliens being taken into ICE custody via 287(g) than in Fiscal Year 2020.

New language on the 287(g) webpage on reads:

In fiscal year (FY) 2021, the 287(g) Program encountered approximately 394 noncitizens convicted for assault, 646 convicted for dangerous drugs, 74 convicted for sex offenses/assaults, 53 convicted for obstructing police, 91 convicted for weapon offenses, and 21 convicted for homicide.

Previously, the same section read:

In fiscal year (FY) 2020, the 287(g) Program encountered approximately 920 noncitizens convicted for assault, 1,261 convicted for dangerous drugs, 104 convicted for sex offenses/assaults, 377 convicted for obstructing police, 190 convicted for weapon offenses, and 37 convicted for homicide.

This represents a large reduction in transfers to ICE custody in all criminal categories reported. It is a significant admission from the Biden administration because it illustrates that its argument for narrowing the ability of ICE to enforce federal law — namely, that Mayorkas’s enforcement guidelines are meant to result in increased arrests of the most violent criminal aliens — is not supported by the facts.

But the numbers are actually much worse for the Biden administration than they look. Almost four months of Fiscal Year 2021 were under the Trump administration when DHS leadership supported the 287(g) program, meaning a significant portion of the 287(g) arrests reported for that fiscal year did not occur under the Biden administration. It’s entirely possible that around half of these arrests occurred under the Trump administration.

Even assuming that the distribution of 287(g) arrests reported on occurred equally across all 12 months of FY21, it would mean that between February 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, the Biden administration only took custody of about 263 illegal aliens convicted for assault, 431 convicted for dangerous drugs, 49 convicted for sex offenses/assaults, 35 convicted for obstructing police, 61 convicted for weapon offenses, and 14 convicted for homicide.

The Biden administration’s enforcement policies are a threat to public safety. From FY20 to FY21, there was a 57 percent decrease in the number of aliens convicted for assault who were taken into custody by ICE via 287(g); a 52 percent decrease in ICE arrests of aliens convicted for weapons offenses; a 49 percent decrease in arrests of aliens convicted for dangerous drugs; a 43 percent decrease in arrests of aliens convicted for homicide; and a 29 percent decrease in arrests of aliens convicted for sex crimes. The largest decrease in arrests was of aliens convicted for obstructing police, an 86 percent decline. The decision of the Biden administration to not take aliens convicted for this crime into ICE custody is consistent with the administration’s general lack of support for law enforcement.

If the Biden administration were more transparent about the results of its immigration policies, a more accurate analysis would be possible. But the Biden administration has cut back on transparency because the political leadership has likely concluded there is no way to put a positive light on the results of its dangerous policies.