The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report last week that revealed alarming failures during the Obama administration that allowed 2.2 million deportable illegal aliens to remain undetained in a “supervised” status. Illegal aliens convicted of criminal offenses accounted for almost 400,000 of that total.
The report contends that a huge backlog was created for deportation officers (DOs) because of several failures of the Obama administration, including imbalanced workloads, unachievable goals, a lack of straightforward policies and procedures, and insufficient training.
ICE deportation officers’ jobs entail administrating the deportation of aliens who are in a detained or non-detained status. The OIG report focused on the ICE DOs involved with aliens on the immigration court’s non-detained docket who are categorized as under “supervision,” and addresses the period when large numbers of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and Family Unit Aliens (FMUA) began crossing the borders in 2014.
According to the report, during fiscal year 2014, Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly 500,000 illegal border crossers, a 16 percent increase over FY2012 and a 34 percent increase over FY 2012. Since ICE DOs are tasked with detaining, deporting, and supervising such aliens, the surge in crossings led to a massive increase in their workload.
In response, the Obama Administration established its “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP) in November 2014 which targeted the removal of certain criminal aliens including those convicted of felonies, multiple misdemeanors, and “significant” misdemeanors such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation. The program also focused on illegal aliens who entered, or re-entered, the U.S. illegally and could not provide evidence of continuous presence since January 1, 2014.
Breitbart reported on the program, labeling it “catch and release 2.0.” Complaints were heard from Border Patrol agents and sheriffs claiming that the Obama Administration handcuffed law enforcement instead of the criminals.
The failed program has left ICE DOs to supervise more than 2.2 million illegal aliens as of the end of August 2016. Breitbart reports that “Of that number, 368,574 of the aliens are convicted criminals. During FY 2015, the first year of the PEP, ICE DOs removed or returned only 235,413 aliens – including 139,368 convicted criminals.”
“These management deficiencies and unresolved obstacles make it difficult for ICE to deport aliens expeditiously,” said ICE Inspector General John Roth. “ICE is almost certainly not deporting all the aliens who could be deported and will likely not be able to keep up with growing numbers of deportable aliens.”
The report lists a series of recommendations to address the “management deficiencies and unresolved obstacles” to which Roth referred.
ICE officials agreed with the recommendations, and have reportedly begun implementing changes to address the identified challenges.
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