ICE on Track to Deport More Immigrants Than Last Fiscal Year, With Nearly 130,000 People Removed

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is on track to deport more immigrants in fiscal year 2019 than it saw deported from the country in the year prior.

In the first two quarters of FY 2019, which began in October last year, ICE has deported 129,517 people, according to numbers released from the agency on Monday.

In the first quarter of FY 2019, from October to December 2018, ICE said it deported a total of 66,549 people, while in the second quarter, January to March, it saw 62,968 people removed from the country.

The nearly 130,000 removals in the first six months of FY 2019 means that ICE is already on track to surpass its numbers from the last two fiscal years, with the agency seeing a total of 226,119 immigrants deported in FY 2017 and 256,085 removed the following year.

ICE focuses on 'criminal convictions'

In a statement, ICE Executive Associate Director Nathalie R. Asher said the agency's enforcement statistics so far "illustrate that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is committed to arresting and removing unlawfully present aliens, with criminal histories, who threaten public safety and endanger immigrant communities."

"During this time period, more than 85 percent of aliens arrested by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers, and more than 91 percent of aliens removed from the interior of the United States, had received criminal convictions or pending criminal charges," Asher said.

According to ICE's data, 72,191, or more than half, of the people deported by ICE in the first six months of this fiscal year were "convicted criminals," with offenses ranging from traffic offenses to more serious crimes, such as burglary and assault. In 2017, driving under the influence of alcohol was the most common criminal conviction category of ICE arrestees, with "dangerous drugs" and other "traffic offenses" following. It is unclear whether that trend has persisted in FY 2019.

Of those deported in the first six months of this fiscal year, 12,314 had "pending criminal charges," while 45,012 were listed as "other immigration violaters," likely meaning they had crossed into the country outside of designated ports of entry or were living undocumented in the U.S.

Asher said the "situation at the border," which has seen an influx of arrivals of asylum seekers, including many families from Central America, "continues to impact interior enforcement with [Enforcement and Removal Operations] personnel routinely detailed to support the processing and detention of arriving aliens."

As a result, Asher said, "ICE removals stemming from U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehensions have increased 10 percent in the first two quarters of FY 19 over FY 18."

Indeed, from January to March 2019, CBP was responsible for nearly double the arrests of immigrants compared to ICE, with CBP arresting 42,501 people in those three months alone, while ICE arrested 21,039. Of those arrested by CBP, 19, 281 had criminal charges, while 15, 679 of those arrested by ICE had been convicted of criminal offenses.

Meanwhile, administrative arrests of immigrants with criminal convictions over the first two quarters of fiscal year 2019 were down 14 percent compared to the same time period in FY 2018.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's special agent preparing to arrest alleged immigration violators at Fresh Mark, Salem, June 19, 2018. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty
ICE on Track to Deport More Immigrants Than Last Fiscal Year, With Nearly 130,000 People Removed | U.S.