Study: Deportations to burden ICE
Officers overworked and undertrained, U.S. inspectors find
WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, hampered by poor organization and an overworked staff, will have trouble keeping up with the Trump administration’s plans to ramp up deportations of people in the country illegally, government inspectors have concluded.
ICE has “overwhelming caseloads,” its records are “likely inaccurate” and its deportation policies and procedures “are outdated and unclear,” said a report released Thursday by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.
“ICE is almost certainly not deporting all the aliens who could be deported and will likely not be able to keep up with the growing number of deportable aliens,” the 19-page report concludes.
The harsh assessment is the latest dash of cold reality for President Donald Trump, who was swept into Washington promising vastly tougher enforcement of immigration laws, including more removals, thousands more Border Patrol agents and deportation officers, and construction of a formidable wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
A vast surge of new hiring is problematic. Although Trump has signed an executive order directing the Border Patrol and ICE to hire 15,000 more agents and officers to boost enforcement, that goal will be nearly impossible to achieve anytime soon.
Under the Trump administration, the Border Patrol and ICE have ramped up arrests of people in the country illegally — 21,362 from mid-January to mid-March, compared with about 16,100 for the same period last year.
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions boasted during a visit to El Paso of making progress, saying the number of people trying to cross the border illegally had fallen to its lowest point in 17 years.
“For those that still seek to violate our laws and enter the country illegally, let me be very clear: Don’t come. When you are caught, you will be detained, adjudicated and deported,” he said.
Sessions said he had ordered each of the 94 U.S. attorney offices to make criminal immigration enforcement a priority, and said each now has a “border security coordinator” who is personally responsible for overseeing immigration enforcement.
After taking office, Sessions ordered nearly every U.S. attorney in the country to resign. He has yet to nominate any replacements to the Senate, which must confirm each one, so it’s unclear when federal prosecutors will start to change their focus.
Sessions also said that he had streamlined the hiring of immigration judges, and that the Justice Department would add 50 such judges this year and 75 next year to help adjudicate asylum claims, deportation orders and other disputes.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday during a trip to El Paso that the number of people trying to cross the border illegally has fallen to its lowest point in 17 years.