ICE Deportations: Optics Meet Reality

Overcoming qualms of his predecessor, the new boss at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says the agency is stepping up deportation of illegal aliens.

Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan said the focus is on migrants who missed immigration court hearings or received deportation orders. “That will include families,” he announced.

Former acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly were forced out of their jobs in part over their worries about the bad optics of targeting families for removal.

Morgan has no such misgivings. A Border Patrol chief at the end of the Obama administration, Morgan said a 2016 operation that carried out enforcement actions against illegal alien families in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina led to a decline in illegal crossings at the southwestern border. He said increased rates of deportation send a deterring message to other Central American migrants streaming north.

ICE reportedly will concentrate its renewed removal efforts on 10 cities with large illegal alien populations, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

“There is nothing inherently illegal about trying to arrest and deport people with final [deportation]orders — it’s just operationally difficult,” noted Michelle Brané, director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Congress isn’t easing the degree of difficulty, as lawmakers dither over spending $4.5 billion on emergency border security measures and more detention facilities. Worse yet, Congress caps how much ICE can spend on deportations.

Douglas Rivlin, communications director for America’s Voice, a group that advocates for immigrants, observes that Congress provides ICE with only enough funds to deport about 400,000 people a year.

That may sound like a big number, but not as long as 100 percent of migrant family units are being released daily into the U.S. With nearly 120,000 individuals successfully crossing the southern border in March and April, the surge of migrants are in position to overwhelm Morgan’s enforcement officers.

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1 Comment

  1. avatar

    We can send two messages. One is that if you make it into the country, then we won’t bother you and you are here to stay. That has happened far too often. The other message is that if we catch you, at the border or a thousand miles away from it, even if you have been here many years, you are going back. When you get sent back, others hear the story of how all that money you paid a coyote, and that long sometimes dangerous journey, was for naught.