U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said “significant” enforcement resources went toward removing individuals under Title 42 as the agency reported in its annual report increases in its detained docket, Alternatives to Detention participants, and expelled terrorists in the last fiscal year.
ICE has more than 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel in more than 400 offices across the world, and operates with an annual budget of about $8 billion. The agency consists of three operational branches — Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) — in addition to management and administration.
ERO conducts administrative arrests of noncitizens for violations of U.S. immigration law in the interior of the United States. For FY 2022, ERO reported nearly twice the number of administrative arrests it made in FY 2021: 142,750 administrative arrests, with 96,354 of those categorized as “Other Immigration Violators” as a result of increased Border Patrol encounters and ERO’s assistance to CBP — the majority of those who were taken into ERO custody over the fiscal year were originally arrested by CBP, the report notes, resulting in “significant workload increases for ERO.”
ERO arrested 46,396 noncitizens with criminal histories last fiscal year, a group that collectively had 198,498 charges and convictions — an average of 4.3 charges or convictions per individual — including 21,531 charges or convictions for assault, 18,009 for traffic offenses not including DUI, 8,164 for sex offenses and sexual assault, 5,554 for weapons offenses, 1,501 for homicide-related offenses, and 1,114 for kidnapping.
ERO’s authorities to execute warrants and initiate prosecution for crimes beyond immigration offenses in FY 2022 resulted in 2,208 criminal arrests, 2,182 criminal indictments, and 2,199 criminal convictions for a range of offenses including fraud, assault, and weapons possession.
In FY 2022, ERO issued 78,829 detainers — a request to state or local law enforcement agencies to notify ICE before a noncitizen subject to removal from the country is released from police custody — for noncitizens with criminal histories, including 1,751 homicide-related offenses, 1,911 kidnappings, 2,934 robberies, 26,186 assaults, and 8,450 sex crimes.
More than 4.7 million noncitizens are on ICE’s non-detained docket — that was 3.6 million in FY 2021 — while the agency cared for an average of 22,630 people in ICE custody over the fiscal year. The majority of detained individuals were citizens of Nicaragua, followed by Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Turkey.
“Most noncitizens subject to removal are monitored outside the detention setting through a variety of mechanisms,” the report notes. “In FY 2022, the number of cases on the non-detained national docket continued on an upward trend, increasing 29% between the end of FY 2021 and the end of FY 2022, to 4,759,560 cases.”
“The steady growth of the non-detained docket is being driven by increased CBP apprehensions of noncitizens at the Southwest Border and the transfer of cases for subsequent processing by ERO,” the agency added.
ERO significantly expanded its Alternatives to Detention case management from an average daily population of 23,000 active participants at the end of FY 2014 to 321,000 at the end of FY 2022.
“However, this represents only a fraction of the cases assigned to the non-detained national docket,” the report added. “With approximately 6,000 ERO officers spread across 25 field offices, ERO lacks sufficient resources to more closely monitor and provide robust case management services to this entire population. Participants currently spend an average of 18 to 19 months enrolled in ATD before they are removed from the program to prioritize more recent arrivals and those deemed eligible for release from ICE custody, who represent a greater flight risk than those who have been enrolled and compliant with ATD for longer timelines.”
In FY 2022, ERO conducted 72,177 removals to more than 150 countries worldwide, with 36,313 of those carried out via charter flight, including 256 charter flights to Guatemala, 220 to Honduras, 125 to Haiti, and 120 to El Salvador. ICE said it removed from the country last fiscal year 2,667 known or suspected gang members, 55 known or suspected terrorists, seven human rights violators, and 74 foreign fugitives wanted by their home governments for crimes including homicide, rape, terrorism, and kidnapping. In FY 2021, 34 individuals known or suspected to be terrorists were removed from the country by ICE ERO.
Under the Title 42 public health order, ICE Air Operations assisted CBP in expelling 65,076 single adults in FY 2022, while ICE’s Juvenile and Family Management Division expelled an additional 52,137 members of family units. “While ERO continued to conduct removals of noncitizens with final removal orders during FY 2022, a significant portion of ERO’s removal workload was dedicated to assisting with expulsions of noncitizens pursuant to the Title 42 authority,” the report says.
Homeland Security Investigations reported 36,685 criminal arrests in FY 2022, the seizure of more than 1.8 million pounds of narcotics, identifying or assisting 1,170 victims of child exploitation, and assisting 765 victims of human trafficking.
“Additionally, HSI set a new record for seized currency and assets of more than $5 billion, dealing a significant blow to TCO operations and criminals seeking to profit from illicit crimes,” the report stated. “This increase of approximately $4 billion from the previous year was due largely to increased seizures of cryptocurrency utilized for criminal activity.”
HSI recommended that 11,863 visas be refused during the fiscal year because of terrorist connections or other derogatory information.
The directorate also reported a marked increase in the amount of fentanyl seized — 20,980 pounds in FY 2022 compared to 14,530 pounds the previous year — and increases in the number of child exploitation and transnational gang cases initiated.
“In FY 2023, we anticipate that the challenging operational conditions that have characterized the past several years will continue to impact ICE activities and resource requirements,” Acting Director Tae Johnson wrote in the report. “To successfully carry out our public safety and national security mission within the interior of the country and continue to support the DHS enterprise at the Southwest Border, ICE will carefully balance resources while finding new and innovative ways to increase organizational efficiency and improve core processes.”
In addition to its core missions of “investigating, disrupting, and dismantling terrorist, domestic, transnational, and other criminal threats,” combating illicit drugs and financial crimes, helping identify and assist victims of human trafficking, and fighting wildlife traffickers, Johnson said the agency “will play a key role in strengthening the United States’ cybersecurity posture through its regional, national, and international partnerships, as well as developing and training a cyber-enabled workforce.”