Migrant family deportations in 2020 top combined total for Trump’s first three years: ICE
The federal government deported more migrant family members in fiscal 2020 than in the preceding three years combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data.
The agency reported some 14,500 family members were deported in the fiscal year, compared to over 10,700 parents and children in the three fiscal years before, according to the Post.
The agency attributed the increase to new arrangements with Central American nations that cuts out the step of waiting for a consular officer to interview migrants. Under the revised arrangement, international officials communicate electronically for this step and when migrants are deported, officials in their home country confirm their citizenship upon arrival.
ICE said that despite the increase in deportations of so-called family unit members, it deported fewer unaccompanied minors and adults. The total of 185,884 deportations was down 30 percent from the previous fiscal year, and a single-fiscal-year low for the Trump administration, the Post noted.
Henry Lucero, ICE’s executive associate director of enforcement and removal operations, said at a media briefing that the overall decline was a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, which left the agency with less detention space, according to the newspaper. The official number of people removed is greater due to nearly 200,000 expulsions, a process distinct from deportation that authorizes border officials to remove people in as little as a few hours, according to the Post.
Although President Trump campaigned in 2016 on a hard-line immigration message and has frequently accused the Obama administration of neglecting the border, he is set to leave office having deported fewer people than Obama did in his own first term. During this period, Obama removed about 1.6 million people compared to the Trump administration’s 935,000, according to the newspaper.
During the past four fiscal years, removals of migrants from the interior of the U.S. were below expectations and the administration was unsuccessful in pressuring so-called sanctuary cities to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
As a result, the government fell behind its predecessors on interior removals “even though they were extremely enthusiastic about it,” Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told the Post.
President-elect Joe Biden has vowed a “much more humane policy” on immigration, but transition officials suggested earlier this week that he would not immediately roll back all of his predecessor’s immigration policies.