Initial data leaked from the government’s 2021 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Annual Report shows why agency leadership may be sitting on it.
For the first time in at least a decade, ICE failed to release its congressionally mandated annual report on deportations of illegal immigrants by the end of the calendar year. Data from the report was reportedly leaked to the Free Beacon. The numbers show that in 2021, the Biden administration deported just 55,590 illegal immigrants, the smallest number in five years (taking us back to the Obama-Biden administration). This is less than a third of the deportations in 2020 and about one-fifth the number in 2019.
Now consider that from February through December 2021, the Customs and Border Patrol apprehended a record 1,956,596 entrants at the Southern border compared to 511,192 immigrants in 2020. In short, migrants are coming at a significantly higher rate, and we are sending them home at a much lower rate.
It turns out that instead of deporting illegal immigrants, the federal government has been transporting them, in the dead of night, throughout the country. Over the last several months, night flights of illegal migrants, often single males, have been periodically reported in Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. State and local officials received no notice they were coming and were never given an option to refuse their admission. Unfortunately, with the dramatic increase in illegal migrants, there has been a corresponding increase in criminal gang activity, human trafficking, drug smuggling and violence, both at the border and in the receiving communities.
The public is left to wonder what has happened to our immigration laws. The Biden administration is so dramatically changing the focus of immigration law that it now seeks to deport only people here illegally who are considered “a threat to our national security, public safety, and border security.” This has led to some absurd results, including the administration sometimes fighting its own agents in court, attempting to have the deportation orders canceled. And even the expressed standards are not always upheld. In one example, an illegal immigrant who killed someone while driving drunk was still not considered enough of a threat to “public safety” to justify deportation.
Making things infinitely worse, the U.S. has been fighting a COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years with extensive restrictions on all walks of life — all purportedly to protect public health and safety. Yet it is not clear whether those crossing the southern border are either tested or vaccinated before they are sent throughout the continental U.S. Chances are, they aren’t, based on multiple reports. If true, the severe contrast with the high burden on American citizens to “show their papers” is staggering. Just for an exclamation point, it’s recently been reported that the State Department has gone so far as to announce that Americans fleeing Ukraine to Poland, ahead of a potential invasion by Russia, must now show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, as well as their U.S. passport, to gain entry. Neither documents appear to be necessary if you come through Juarez.
This is where my organization, the Center to Advance Security in America, comes in. We have opened several inquiries into relevant agencies for records to determine how these policies are being developed, administered and squared with the law. The American people deserve to know how — or whether — their government is executing the law and if their safety is at risk.
• Adam Turner is the director of the Center to Advance Security in America.