On December 23, U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) heralded the efforts of its agents during Fiscal Year 2020 with its annual report. Despite the struggles of the pandemic, forcing many Americans to shift their work from office to home, these agents remained on the frontlines to apprehend and deport illegal aliens and gang members from our communities.
Over the past year, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) issued 122,223 detainers and effectuated 103,603 administrative arrests for immigration status violators. Of those aliens arrested:
- 4,067 were known or suspected gang members, including 675 from MS-13.
- 34 were known or suspected terrorists.
- 23,932 at-large arrests were conducted by ICE, which is typically for aliens who were wanted by ICE but often were released by sanctuary jurisdictions.
- 90 percent of aliens arrested by ICE had criminal convictions and/or pending charges.
Additionally, ERO deported 185,884 unlawfully present aliens from the United States. The breakdown of those removed is as follows:
- 118,949, or 64 percent, had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.
- 4,276 were known or suspected gang members.
- 31 were known or suspected terrorists.
- 14,499 were family units.
- 4,056 were unaccompanied alien children.
Between July 13 and September 19, 2020, ICE launched Operation Cross Check XI, an enforcement initiative targeting criminal aliens who committed offenses involving a victim. The operation led to the arrests of 2,700 aliens who were either removable based on their criminal history or being unlawfully present in the United States. These arrested aliens together racked up 5,800 criminal convictions and more than 3,200 pending charges related to those arrests.
Some of the primary offenses that the apprehended aliens were charged with or convicted of included over 1,500 assaults, more than 340 sex crimes, nearly 200 weapons offenses, over 50 robberies, and 31 homicide offenses.
Despite ICE removing scores of criminal aliens from our streets, the number of arrests and deportations have declined due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In FY 2019, ICE arrested 143,000 aliens and removed more than 267,000 from the country. In FY 2020, both categories experienced declines of 28 and 30 percent respectively.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to place a moratorium on all ICE deportations and scale back immigration enforcement during his first 100 days in office. These proposals, coupled with a rising border surge, would likely result in large numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country, and would allow criminal aliens to roam the U.S. with little consequence.
If the incoming Biden administration is serious about keeping Americans and lawful migrants safe, it should abandon that promise and rather empower immigration enforcement to apprehend as many immigration lawbreakers as possible. Handcuffing agencies and scrapping policies that have helped stave off countless preventable crimes only endangers the people all presidents swear to protect.