ICE Details How Border Crisis Impacted Immigration Enforcement in FY 2019


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Matthew T. Albence explained how the unprecedented crisis at the border during this fiscal year impacted nearly every area of the agency’s operations, including interior enforcement, detention capacity, transportation, removals, personnel, and overall expenditures.

In FY 2019, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested approximately 143,000 aliens and removed more than 267,000 – which is an increase in removals from the prior year, according to an ICE press release.

While the numbers of individuals apprehended or found inadmissible at the border nationwide increased 68 percent over the previous fiscal year, the total number of aliens arrested by ICE dropped by nearly 10 percent compared to FY 2018. More than 86 percent of those arrested by ICE had criminal convictions or pending charges, according to the press release.

Albence said ICE expected the lower numbers due to the crisis at the border because ICE needed to redirect resources to combat this unprecedented surge of illegal activity, and clearly demonstrated the detrimental effect the border crisis had on public safety, the press release went on to say.

“There is no doubt that the border crisis, coupled with the unwillingness of some local jurisdictions that choose to put politics over public safety has made it more difficult for ICE to carry out its Congressionally mandated interior enforcement mission,” the press release quoted Albence as saying.

“No matter where you live in the U.S., your safety is impacted by criminal aliens who came to this country illegally and now live in your neighborhoods. Despite our significant challenges, and as evidenced by the tremendous work of the professional men and women of ERO, ICE remains committed to removing dangerous, recidivist criminals from our communities and restoring integrity to the nation’s immigration system.”

ERO Administrative Arrests

ERO enforces U.S. immigration law and primarily arrests aliens for civil violations of U.S. immigration law. In furtherance of this mission, it conducts enforcement actions based on intelligence-driven leads in communities nationwide (at-large arrests) and works with jails and prisons to identify aliens who are amenable to removal and who have been arrested by state or local authorities for criminal activity (custodial arrests). In FY 2019:

• ERO enforcement activity was significantly impacted by the reallocation of resources in response to the crisis at the border. These resources included approximately 350 ERO officers who were reassigned in support of Southwest Border operations, as well as hundreds still dealing with the increased detention and case management requirements stemming from the massive surge of illegal crossings.
• ERO’s overall administrative arrests decreased by 10 percent over the last fiscal year, while administrative arrests of convicted criminals decreased by 12 percent. In real numbers, this means 13,000 less criminals were arrested this year than last – criminals that remain at-large, many who will again victimize innocent people.

Despite the agency impacts, ICE ERO still made incredible contributions to the safety of this country. ERO arrests included:

• More than 1,900 convictions and charges for homicide;
• More than 1,800 convictions and charges for kidnapping;
• Over 12,000 sex offenses, with more than 5,000 convictions and charges for sexual assault;
• More than 45,000 convictions and charges for assault;
• More than 67,000 convictions and charges for crimes involving drugs;
• Over 10,000 convictions and charges for weapons offenses; and
• More than 74,000 convictions and charges for Driving Under the Influence.

ICE Removals

ICE removals include both aliens arrested by ERO in the interior of the country and aliens who were apprehended by CBP and turned over to ERO for removal efforts. While ICE’s overall removals increased slightly from FY 2018 to FY 2019, the portion of removals resulting from CBP apprehensions increased significantly during this time period, as a direct result of the border crisis.

In FY 2019:

• ICE removed 267,258 individuals, an increase from the 256,085 removals in FY 2018. Among those removed in FY 2019, 85 percent had previously spent time in ICE detention, demonstrating its continued importance for the removal process.
• ICE removed more than 5,700 aliens identified as family unit members, which represents a 110 percent increase in removal of family unit members compared to FY 2018.
• 91 percent of those ICE initially arrested in the interior and subsequently removed had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges at the time of arrest, demonstrating ICE’s continued efforts to prioritize public safety in the interior despite resource constraints.

ICE Custody and Case Management

ERO manages a detained and non-detained docket which includes aliens in all stages of the immigration process across the country. During FY 2019, ICE’s detained and non-detained dockets both reached record highs in FY 2019, overwhelmingly due to the historic levels of CBP apprehensions at the Southwest Border.

In FY 2019:

• 73 percent of all initial book-ins to ICE custody resulted from CBP apprehensions, while overall initial book-ins to ICE custody increased 29% compared to FY 2018 and 58% compared to FY 2017.
• ERO’s Average Daily Population in custody reached 50,165 in FY 2019, an increase of 19 percent compared to FY 2018. At times, ERO’s detention population exceeded 56,000.
• ICE’s Average Length of Stay for its detained population was 34.3 days, which decreased from 39.4 days in FY 2018 and 43.7 days in FY 2017.
• The number of aliens on ICE’s non-detained docket surpassed 3 million cases for the first time (3.2 million), up from 2.6 million cases at the end of FY 2018 and 2.4 million at the end of FY 2017.

Albence announced the newly released national statistics and ERO End of Year Report in the Dallas field office, which covers north Texas and Oklahoma – where the largest number of ICE arrests occurred (16,900), including more than 95 percent of aliens who either had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. It should be noted that within these two states, ICE enjoys tremendous cooperation with its law enforcement partners.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected] 





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One Thought to “ICE Details How Border Crisis Impacted Immigration Enforcement in FY 2019”

  1. Mary

    Governor Bill Lee….Are you listening? NO Refugees for Tennessee!!