Dec 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Border surge diverts ICE away from internal raids and deportations

gents working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prepare to board detainees onto a Swift Air charter flight at McCormick Air Center

Agents working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prepare to board detainees onto a Swift Air charter flight. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportations remained low in fiscal year 2022 while arrests nearly doubled from last year — largely driven by people who recently crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to new end-of-year ICE data.

Why it matters: Large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers arriving at the border and continued rapid expulsions under Title 42 has forced ICE to spend more time assisting border officials rather than internal arrests and deportations.

  • Throughout the year, more than a thousand ICE officials were deployed to the southwest border amid a record year for border crossings, ICE officials told reporters.
  • Even ICE's Homeland Security Investigations office zeroed in on border-related efforts, deploying 600 special agents to the southwest border and 300 more to international locations to assist efforts to crack down on smuggling networks.

By the numbers: ICE made 142,750 arrests in FY 2022 — nearly double the 74,000 arrests made last fiscal year.

  • The number of people arrested with criminal histories was around the same as last year, while there was a surge of arrests of "other immigration violators" — driven by recent border crossers.
  • But this is not necessarily a result of ICE officers making more of an effort to track down and arrest recent border crossers. A significant number checked in with ICE after first being encountered by Border Patrol, according to the report.

Just 72,000 people were formally deported in fiscal year 2022, including suspected gang members, terrorists, human rights violators and foreign fugitives. That is up from the all-time low of 59,000 last year, but still historically low.

  • Migrants and asylum seekers were expelled to Mexico or their home countries more than 1 million times under Title 42 in FY 2022, assisted by ICE.
  • Title 42 expulsions, unlike regular deportations, block people from the asylum process, but also does not penalize migrants for attempting to enter the country again.

What to watch: In addition to conducting arrests and deportation, ICE also oversees detention centers and keeps track of migrants who may be ordered removed.

  • ICE is now tracking nearly 4.8 million cases of immigrants at various stages of the court process who are not held in detention centers. That's a 29% jump from the end of last fiscal year, driven by the massive numbers crossing the border.
  • 1.2 million have already been given final orders of removal.
  • 321,000 were enrolled in "alternative to detention" programs, which use various technologies to track and check in with migrants released into the U.S. as they go through immigration proceedings.

What they're saying: “ICE continues to disrupt transnational criminal organizations, remove threats to national security and public safety, uphold the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and collaborate with its colleagues across government and law enforcement in pursuit of our shared mission to keep U.S. communities safe,” said ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson in a statement.

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