Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Deportations have plunged by up to 100 percent in U.S. counties under President Joe Biden, according to newly released data.
Deportations, or the removal of illegal immigrants, have dropped by as much as 95 percent in U.S. states, the data show. And in counties across the country, far fewer illegal aliens are being kicked out of the country.
The Center for Immigration Studies, which obtained and released the data, pointed to Howard County, Texas, as an example.
In the county, which has about 35,000 residents, 655 illegal aliens were removed from January through September 2019, when President Donald Trump was in office.
In the same months in 2021, after Biden took office, U.S. officials only removed 189 aliens from the county.
The data are for illegal immigrants arrested by local authorities, leading to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) becoming aware of them. The total drop for the group was a 70 percent decrease to 16,351.
“The public safety consequences of the Biden interior enforcement policies that are being experienced in Howard County, Texas, undoubtedly are happening in hundreds of other U.S. jurisdictions,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the center, wrote in a blog post detailing the data.
“State and local authorities should keep track of cases of criminal aliens who are not removed by ICE and bring these cases to the attention of ICE leadership, members of Congress, and the public. In addition, through appropriations or otherwise, the new Congress should clarify its expectations with respect to immigration enforcement in the interior, particularly involving criminal aliens, certain of whom are subject to mandatory arrest and detention under the Immigration and Nationality Act,” she added.
ICE and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, did not respond to requests for comment.
ICE has already disclosed that it carried out a dramatically lower number of deportations under Biden than under Trump.
In fiscal year 2021, which included several months of the Trump era, ICE deported just 59,011—down from 185,000 in fiscal year 2020, and more than 250,000 in fiscal year 2019.
The change stems from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a Biden appointee, directing ICE agents to focus on illegal immigrants deemed a threat to national security, public safety, or border security. Each deportation, under the directive, requires an assessment of whether the illegal immigrant poses one or more of these threats.
Biden administration officials have defended the change, claiming that it’s paid dividends in part by an increase in the arrest and removal of illegal aliens convicted of aggravated felonies.
Critics note that there was a decline in the removal of aliens convicted of any felony.
The newly released data shows more detail on the decline in deportations among illegal immigrants who were flagged to ICE due to being arrested and having biometric data, including fingerprints, in a federal system.
In 10 states and Guam, declines of greater than 80 percent were recorded. In 33 others, drops of 60 to 80 percent were recorded. In the remaining states, declines of at least 23 percent were recorded.
On the county level, counties across the country went from dozens or even hundreds of arrests in the first nine months of 2019 to a small number in the first nine months of 2021. That included Chelan County, Washington—from 30 to 0—and Gwinnett County, Georgia—from 522 to 53.
Among the counties where the most removals under the identification, known as the Secure Communities program, happened, all but one had fewer removals under Biden, including 91 percent declines in Plymouth County, Massachusetts; Bergen County, New Jersey; and Kankakee County, Illinois. The only increase was in Nueces County, Texas.
“For too long the Biden administration has neglected our country’s immigration law for the sake of appeasing the lawless mobs of the left,” Ron Kovach, press secretary for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Epoch Times via email. “The combination of open borders and the outright refusal to engage in deportations even after an alien has been found to engage in criminal activity is exactly what has led to cities social infrastructure crumbling, overall crime increasing, and an endless flow of migrants at our southern border. Until the Biden administration makes a change and starts to actually care about our nation’s laws these statistics will only continue to get worse.”
Biden vowed while campaigning for the presidency that his administration, if he won, would only carry out deportations for felonies.
Deportation Policy Being Challenged
The narrowing of enforcement priorities by Mayorkas was quickly challenged in court by states, including Texas, that asserted it was illegal.
A U.S. judge over the summer blocked the Mayorkas directive and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay the block.
Arguments in the case were heard by Supreme Court justices in November.
U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the justices that the enforcement policy was necessary because it is not possible to remove all illegal immigrants in the country.
Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone II said that the memo was illegal because it treats the enforcement provision in the immigration and Nationality Act as discretionary even though this court “and every previous administration have acknowledged it as mandatory.”
Matthew Vadum contributed to this report.