Immigration and Customs Enforcement Annual Report

March 11, 2022

Washington, DC – Today, the Center to Advance Security in America (CASA) Director Adam Turner commented on the 2021 Annual Report belatedly issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The report is nearly three months late in its release to the public as new enforcement priorities set in at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In February, Turner highlighted some of these priorities and his organization’s efforts to inquire deeper into the border crisis. These include reports of disparate COVID-19 protocols, taxpayer-funded transportation of migrants across the country, and what appears to be a significant deviation from past interpretations of DHS’s obligations to uniformly enforce immigration law. The Annual Report describes this effort as a “rebalance[ing] of its approach to civil immigration enforcement.”

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Annual Report numbers show a dramatic change in approach to the nation’s long-standing immigration laws that have, at times, resulted in tension between the career officials and leaders at the agency. While apprehensions of illegal aliens have nearly tripled, the 2021 Annual Report shows deportations at record lows compared to the past five years. Other observations include:

  • ICE’s press release highlights the new enforcement priority that requires an individualized assessment of a threat to better focus resources on those that pose security threats. Yet statistics showing increased criminal activity around the border and locations receiving these migrants appear at odds with this new stated priority.
  • The agency highlighted its efforts in targeting illicit funding by designated terrorist entities in Iran – an interesting point to highlight given the recent revelations that removal of these groups from the sanctions list is in play to finalize an Iranian nuclear deal.
  • The Report emphasized the discretion given to officers inherent in their new approach yet stories of the DHS leadership fighting their own agents in court, attempting to have deportation orders canceled, again undermines the agency’s claim.
  • A major theme of the Report is the apparent prioritization of removing illegal immigrants who commit felonies while in the United States. Yet even this standard appears to be arbitrary with one example of an illegal immigrant who killed someone while driving drunk escaping deportation for not being considered sufficiently dangerous to the public’s safety.

“It is not surprising that DHS leadership might have been timid about releasing the 2021 Annual Report,” said CASA Director Adam Turner. “It tells a stark story about shifting immigration priorities that may contribute to the public’s perception that the agency has largely stopped enforcing the law. The question then becomes how many taxpayer resources are being deployed to assist illegal aliens in their effort to resettle in America and whether those efforts are consistent with DHS’s appropriations and other legal obligations. CASA has submitted numerous FOIA requests to find out. The American people deserve to know.”