Operation Broken Promise – Too Little, Too Late



In a 17-day span last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents rounded up 154 illegal aliens who failed to leave the U.S. after they had agreed to depart voluntarily. Of those arrested, 133 had criminal convictions or pending charges.

“Operation Broken Promise” is “just [in]the beginning” phases of tracking down aliens who have reneged on their pledges, ICE official Tony Pham says.

According to a Center for Immigration Studies report,16,451 aliens were granted voluntary departure by immigration judges in fiscal year 2020. ICE has not disclosed how many have failed to leave, but Pham said the agency is looking at scofflaws going back as far as 1997.

ICE says voluntary departure by illegal aliens benefits taxpayers by lowering the costs of deportations. Self-removal enables aliens to exit the country on their own accord within 60-120 days. In so doing, they avoid the legal ramifications that come with a deportation order, such as a five- or 10-year bar from future entry into the U.S.

Yet Pham acknowledges, “It takes a lot of law-enforcement review to locate these individuals.” In that light, allowing criminal aliens additional time on the streets doesn’t look like such a cost-saving public benefit after all.

Though “Operation Broken Promise” is a necessary enforcement program, much time and expense could be spared if immigration courts stopped taking illegal aliens at their word and started deportation proceedings without delay.

Ultimately, “Operation Broken Promise” may end before it really gets going. With about 1 million aliens under final orders of removal, don’t count on a Biden administration taking any actions to reduce that number.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.