ICE arrests fell more than 60 percent in February: report
Arrests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fell by more than 60 percent in February following President Biden’s orders to rein in the agency.
The number of immigrants taken into custody by ICE as well as the number of deportations fell by around 60 percent, when compared to the last three months of the Trump administration, according to data viewed by The Washington Post.
The drop in arrests comes after a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s 100-day deportation freeze. However, the judge’s move does not require the administration to continue deportations at the previous pace.
The administration issued temporary guidelines that limit ICE’s enforcement priorities to national security threats, recent border-crossers and criminals with aggravated felony convictions, according to the Post. Officers must receive written permission from a supervisor before attempting to arrest any fugitives that do not fit this criteria.
The newspaper notes that ICE arrests and deportations also fell during the pandemic as the agency sought to keep its agents away from potential exposure to the coronavirus and reduce occupancy in immigration jails.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in an attempt to block the pared-down guidelines for ICE, the Post reports.
“Despite a clear mandate of federal statutory law, Defendants believe that there are literally no constraints whatsoever on their authority, and they may release individuals, including those charged with or convicted of crimes, even when immigration courts have already ordered their removal from the United States,” they wrote in their complaint filed in U.S. district court in Arizona.
The decrease in arrests also comes as Biden faces pressure from all sides to take action on an influx of immigrants across the southern border, many of whom are unaccompanied minors. The administration has scrambled to address the need for space and staffing, and the Post reported earlier this month that it will try to convert family detention centers into migrant processing facilities.
The moves come after the Biden administration reopened a facility for migrant children in Texas despite the president’s criticism of former President Trump’s use of the facilities during the previous administration.