President Joe Biden has effectively abolished the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency through heavy restrictions on its operations, ICE officers say.
ICE deportations numbered an all-time low last month with 2,962 illegal immigrants returned to their home countries. Plummeting immigration enforcement is a result of new policies Biden implemented that restrict who qualifies for deportation and what actions ICE is authorized to take. As The Washington Post reports:
Under new Biden administration rules curtailing immigration enforcement, ICE carried out fewer than 3,000 deportations last month, the lowest level on record. The agency’s 6,000 officers currently average one arrest every two months.
ICE under President Biden is an agency on probation. The new administration has rejected calls from some Democrats to eliminate the agency entirely, but Biden has placed ICE deportation officers on a leash so tight that some say their work is being functionally abolished.
Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have pushed the Biden administration to abolish ICE entirely, a suggestion that Biden has resisted in the past. Instead, Biden has said that the goals of progressives can be accomplished through reforms.
During an April address, Biden told a group of activists shouting for him to “abolish” the agency and end private detention centers that “I agree,” although he clarified moments later that he was responding to the calls to end private detention centers. As The Daily Wire reported:
This week, at a rally in Georgia to mark his first 100 days in office, President Biden responded to leftist hecklers who chanted, “Close private detention centers!” “Abolish ICE!” by begging, “I agree with you. I’m working on it, man. Give me another five days.”
“Folks, you all know what they’re talking about,” Biden added, according to Newsweek. “There should be no private prisons, period … none, period. That’s what they’re talking about, private detention centers. They should not exist and we are working to close all of them … I promise you.”
The cutback in ICE enforcement comes amid a surge in illegal immigration that the Biden administration has struggled to contain.
Illegal immigration has surged to a 20-year-high since Biden took office as many immigrants flocked to the U.S., hoping that the new president would be more lax toward border crossers than his predecessor. Some federal boarding facilities are now facing severe overcrowding because of the influx of illegal immigrants, many of which are unaccompanied minors.
Biden tapped Vice President Kamala Harris in March to head the administration’s response to the border crisis. Since taking up the role, Harris has yet to hold a press conference on the administration’s plans to handle the crisis and has not visited the border to see the crisis first-hand.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich called on Biden to fire Harris as the administration’s “border czar” earlier this month.
“To date, her response to the border crisis has been absolutely abysmal, so I am requesting that she be replaced as your ‘border czar,’” Brnovich wrote in a letter. “We are not nearly 50 days into her appointment, and Vice President Harris has shown little interest in observing what is happening along the border and has failed to articulate any plan to deal with the devastating effects of this crisis.”
The White House has continued to blame the ongoing crisis on the Trump administration, claiming its policies led to the surge in immigration that began after Biden won the election last year.
“After coming into office, our administration immediately jumped into action to address the influx of migrants at the border, something that began during and was exacerbated by the Trump administration,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press conference May 4.
This article has been revised to further clarify the context of Biden’s remarks.