U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released its report for the 2021 fiscal year on Friday, showing a sharp decrease in the number of arrests and deportations of illegal immigrants from previous years.
ICE agents arrested 74,082 non-citizens from October 2020 through September 2021, down from 103,603 arrests in the 2020 fiscal year and 143,099 arrests in the 2019 fiscal year.
Deportations were also lower than previous years. The agency deported 59,011 non-citizens in the 2021 fiscal year, compared with 185,884 deportations in the 2020 fiscal year and 267,258 deportations during the 2019 fiscal year.
“Based on the success of FY 2021, I have every confidence ICE will continue to maintain its mission focus and achieve operational successes, while ushering in fresh organizational changes in the coming fiscal year,” ICE acting director Tae Johnson said in the report.
ICE issued temporary guidance on February 18, 2021, directing agents to prioritize arrests of people deemed “threats to national security, border security and public safety.”
The 2021 fiscal year report was released after Buzzfeed News reported that Department of Homeland Security officials are planning to warn Mexico of a potential rise in migrants attempting to enter the U.S. The Biden administration has struggled to deal with record-high numbers of migrants attempting to cross the southern border, with U.S. Border Patrol encountering over 2 million migrants at the border during President Biden’s first year in office.
Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued directives issued at the start of the new fiscal year could have further impact on ICE arrests and deportations. Mayorkas on September 30, 2021 directed ICE agents to prioritize arrests based on whether a migrant is a threat to public safety, saying “we will not work in conflict by spending resources seeking to remove those who do not pose a threat.”
Additionally, Mayorkas ordered a halt to work-site enforcement operations by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.