Timothy Perry is out as chief of staff at ICE amid questions over the deportation agency’s plummeting arrest numbers.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed his departure but did not give a reason for the sudden change.
One law enforcement source said Mr. Perry was ousted by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over concern about ICE’s enforcement numbers, which show a serious deterioration in the agency’s operations over the last year.
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Peckumn said Mr. Perry was no longer working at the agency, but she didn’t address the arrest numbers nor Mr. Mayorkas’ role in Mr. Perry’s departure.
“Tim Perry decided to depart the agency to pursue a new opportunity. We are grateful to Tim for his contributions over the past year and wish him well,” she said in a statement.
It’s not clear what that opportunity was. A LinkedIn page that appears to belong to Mr. Perry now describes him as a “consultant.”
An email to Mr. Perry’s account over the holiday weekend bounced back with news of his departure, but his name still appeared on the agency’s leadership web page Monday. It was changed by Tuesday afternoon.
Jason Hauser is now listed as acting chief of staff. He had previous stints in Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, ICE’s sister enforcement agency.
Mr. Perry was installed at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by the White House early in the new administration. He was tasked with getting a handle on operations at the agency, which has been under fire from President Biden’s political base.
ICE has been without a confirmed director for five years. Tae Johnson, a career official, has been serving as acting director under Mr. Biden.
Mr. Perry, as chief of staff, was the top political appointee and was tapped by the White House to implement the president’s plans.
In that role, he served as the focal point of ICE’s new rules limiting arrests and deportations.
The final numbers for fiscal year 2021 have yet to be released but preliminary data showed overall arrests and deportations were down significantly.
According to documents filed in federal court, under the February enforcement rules ICE averaged about one arrest every two months for each deportation officer on staff. That’s just 25% of what the agency averaged in the Trump years and about 12% of the average during peak Obama years.
And data obtained by Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, showed that deportations were down 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
ICE, in its court filings, says that while arrests are down, the number of aggravated felons being targeted is up. During the period of study, the number went from 3,575 in 2020 to 6,046 in 2021.