WASHINGTON—Heritage’s homeland security team released the following statement Thursday in response to reports showing a historically, catastrophically low number of illegal aliens were deported in fiscal year 2021. According to an unofficial U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report obtained by Heritage and others, ICE processed a mere 55,590 removals in FY 2021. In the four years prior, ICE averaged more than 233,000 annual removals, with a high of 267,258 in FY 2018.
Mark Morgan, former acting CBP commissioner and Heritage visiting fellow: “President Biden does not support law enforcement and he is not tough on crime, the White House’s laughable claims to the contrary. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded more than 2 million encounters in 2021, while also documenting at least 600,000 ‘got-aways’—individuals who evaded Border Patrol and are now at large in our country. Add to these historic numbers the tens of millions of illegal aliens currently in our country, and that number of 55,590 deportations becomes even more shocking. To top it off, a number of these deportations occurred during the final months of the Trump administration, when Title 42 was still being regularly enforced, making Biden’s actual deportations number even lower.
“Even worse, upwards of 90% of those arrested by ICE have criminal convictions or pending charges. The Biden administration is literally releasing criminals into our communities rather than deporting them. This president has not only opened our borders to the entire world, but has made it very clear that if you get to the U.S., you will likely be released into the interior, and once released, you will not be deported.”
Lora Ries, Heritage senior research fellow and former DHS acting deputy chief of staff: “President Biden and his figurehead at the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, have been working for a year to make it harder for the men and women of DHS law enforcement to do their jobs. Almost from the start, Mayorkas put guidance in place that would make it nearly impossible to deport the vast majority of those in the U.S., or who would subsequently come illegally, from deportation. They have effectively turned the United States into a sanctuary country. These numbers are the proof that their approach is a massive failure, but make no mistake, they are not bothered by it. They see a political benefit to mass illegal immigration—a benefit more important to them than supporting our Border Patrol agents, keeping the nation safe, or upholding the laws they swore to protect. This lack of enforcement is also creating new gaps in our security that can and will be exploited, and coupled with the weaponization of migrant flows, makes the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, espionage, and transnational criminal activity.”
Mike Howell, former DHS oversight counsel and Heritage senior advisor for government relations: “This is the Biden administration’s version of ‘defund the police.’ It’s also completely unacceptable that DHS has not released the official report, months after it should have been available to the public. DHS leadership from Secretary Mayorkas on down clearly have no interest in transparency or accountability. They know full well the mess they’ve created, but are trying to hide the truth from the American people and continue to actively lie to us about it. To those members of DHS law enforcement who have been muzzled, who have been ignored, and who have been pulled off the frontlines, we have your back, even though this secretary and this president clearly don’t.”