Deportation rates have fallen dramatically under President Joe Biden, with the administration removing far fewer illegal aliens in 2021 than were deported under President Donald Trump.
In the roughly one-year period between October 2020 and September 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deported just 59,011 illegal immigrants, according to newly released data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an arm of DHS.
That’s down 68 percent from 2020, when the federal government removed over 185,000 illegal aliens under Trump-era immigration rules. The drop is even more pronounced compared to Trump’s 2019 deportation rates: that year, DHS deported more than 250,000 illegal aliens.
The significant drop comes as Border Patrol agents along the southern border find themselves inundated with unprecedented levels of illegal immigration.
“There can be no doubt, the ICE removal report shows that President Biden’s immigration executive orders have all but abolished ICE,” Preston Huennekens, government relations manager at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Epoch Times in an email. “Biden’s policies have eviscerated ICE’s ability to do its job, endangering American citizens and prioritizing radical politics over the rule of law.”
Biden has taken a far more laissez-faire approach to border security than Trump. He halted construction on Trump’s border wall almost immediately after taking office, leaving construction materials that had already been paid for by the federal government sitting unused along the border. At the same time, he reduced the number of border agents, leaving the remaining agents struggling to stop the unprecedented inflow of illegal immigrants into the country.
He also overturned Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required that those seeking asylum in the United States remain in Mexico until their asylum applications were approved.
Critics say the record levels of illegal immigration are a result of the Biden administration’s relaxed enforcement measures.
While estimates of how many illegal aliens have entered the country since Biden took office vary, U.S. Customs and Border Protection data show that about 2 million people illegally crossed the border in 2021, a nearly fourfold increase from illegal crossings a year earlier.
In a March 11 statement, DHS defended itself from charges of failing to enforce immigration law, saying that it has focused on removing dangerous felons and other criminals who pose a risk to society.
“In January and February 2021, ICE issued interim enforcement priorities, focusing its personnel and resources on aggravated felons and other serious criminals,” the statement says.
“On September 30, 2021, Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas released updated enforcement priorities to better focus the Department’s resources on the apprehension and removal of noncitizens who are a threat to our national security, public safety, and border security and advance the interests of justice by ensuring a case-by-case assessment of whether an individual poses a threat.
“For the first time, enforcement priorities now require an assessment of the individual and the totality of the facts and circumstances to ensure resources are focused most effectively on those who pose a threat.”
Many illegal aliens who are apprehended by Border Patrol agents have been released into the United States after being processed, a policy labeled “catch and release.”
According to an October 2021 letter by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), in the January-through-August period in 2021, roughly 500,000 illegal aliens were released into the United States after being detained by border security under the catch and release policy.
For Americans living in the border region, the massive uptick in illegal immigration has had a pronounced effect on security.
Border towns have faced constant dangers from drug and human traffickers, and encounters with these criminals have left several Americans dead.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, John Ladd, an Arizona-based rancher, discussed the measures he’s had to take to protect his family and property.
“We’ve got a gun at every door in the house,” Ladd said. “We had to go through all that again with the family—you better understand if you’re going to shoot somebody, the consequences, and you better make sure you’re really in danger.”
Republicans have accused the Biden administration of enabling this “humanitarian crisis” by its attitude toward enforcing immigration law.
“The cause of all of this is simple,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stated during an October 2021 press conference. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris refuse to enforce the law.”
Cruz and other critics of the administration’s immigration policy have demanded that Biden reverse his immigration policies and restart construction on the southern border wall, ending the policy of catch and release, and reinstating the “Remain in Mexico” asylum-seeker policy.