DHS chief expects ‘significant changes’ after ICE review
The head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says he expects “significant changes” to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after a Biden administration review of the agency is completed in the months ahead.
Speaking with The Washington Post, Alejandro Mayorkas said that he planned to reorganize the priorities of the agency, which saw vociferous opposition from Democrats during its Trump-era immigration crackdowns, without shrinking its overall size or scope.
“What those changes will be, I am wrestling with right now, quite frankly,” Mayorkas told the Post.
“I really am focused on it becoming a premier national security and law enforcement agency,” he continued. “I really want to elevate all of the other work [ICE] does and also ensure that its civil immigration work is well-focused in the service of the national security and public safety mission.”
The Post reports that amid the review ordered by President Biden, a cloud of uncertainty has descended upon the agency, which some liberals seek to abolish entirely.
ICE agents now reportedly carry out an average of one arrest every two months, and the agency as a whole deported fewer than 3,000 migrants last month, less than any other time in its recorded history.
ICE officers who spoke to the Post described many employees exercising, doing busywork or simply wasting time as they have fewer enforcement operations to carry out.
Mayorkas’s comments come as President Biden is under fire from both Democrats and Republicans on the issue of immigration reform, with Republicans hammering the White House over a surge of migrants and unaccompanied minors in particular at the U.S.-Mexico border, while progressives in the president’s own party have demanded a halt to deportations and an end to the detention of minors.
A group of Democrats wrote to Mayorkas last month and urged him to implement reforms to DHS detention policies while the Congress debates broader changes to the immigration system.
Republicans, meanwhile, see Biden’s handling of the issue as a wedge that could result in the GOP retaking one or both chambers of Congress in next year’s midterms.
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