Mar 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

ICE arrests and deportations fall under Biden

US Acting Director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tae Johnson, speaks about Operation Dark HunTor, a joint criminal opioid and darknet enforcement operation

U.S. acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tae Johnson. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement made 74,000 arrests of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in fiscal year 2021 — a significant decline from the past several years, according to the newest yearly report.

Why it matters: The yearly report released by ICE underscores how the agency has transformed under the Biden administration, with new priorities for arrests, a focus on deporting aggravated felons and the end of detaining migrant families.

  • “As the annual report’s data reflects, ICE’s officers and special agents focused on cases that delivered the greatest law enforcement impact in communities across the country while upholding our values as a nation," ICE acting director Tae Johnson said in a statement.

By the numbers: COVID-19 restrictions, the use of Title 42 to quickly turn back migrants at the southern border more than a million times, as well as the focus on prioritizing criminal noncitizens contributed to the decline in overall arrests and removals last fiscal year, administration officials told reporters.

  • Arrests of undocumented immigrants fell to 74,000 from more than 100,000 in fiscal year 2020 and more than 140,000 in each of the three years before that.
  • It was the lowest annual number since at least fiscal year 2015, according to ICE data.
  • Deportations declined to 59,000, the lowest number since at least fiscal year 2008, according to the new report and past ICE data. More than three times as many immigrants, 186,000, were deported in fiscal year 2020.
  • Before that, ICE made between 226,000–410,000 removals every fiscal year going back to 2008.

Between the lines: The agency focused its efforts on serious criminals under Biden, nearly doubling the number of arrests of people with aggravated felony convictions from the previous year.

  • 66% of ICE deportations were of convicted criminals last year, up from 56% the year before.
  • And roughly 49% of all ICE arrests were of convicted criminals.

"ICE no longer conducts long-term detention of families at its facilities," Johnson said in a statement at the beginning of the newly released report.

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