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Biden administration still to release long-awaited ICE report on arrests, deportations of illegal immigrants

The Biden administration has not yet released a key report on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) arrests and deportations in Fiscal Year 2021, which was expected at the end of the year – leading critics to believe that the administration could be stalling on the report that they say will contain politically damaging information for the administration.

The annual report contains data on ICE’s enforcement operations and investigations throughout the fiscal year. The Washington Free Beacon reported that the report has been released at the end of the calendar year at least since 2011.


“This is unprecedented,” Jon Feere, a former ICE official now with the Center for Immigration Studies, told Fox News. “It’s something ICE does every year proudly because agents and officers want to show the results of their hard work over the last year, and for the Biden administration political appointees to not want to produce this is really a slap in the face to the hard-working career officials, and more importantly it’s clearly a political effort aimed at hiding the impact of the Biden administration’s policies.”

ICE told Fox News, however, that there was no delay, that it is released around the end of the year or the beginning of the next year, that the report is in final review and the release date is still to be determined. A spokesperson said the agency expects it to be out later this month.

The FY2020 report showed that ICE’s arrests dropped from the prior fiscal year – attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, published during the Trump administration, found that there were 103,603 arrests and 185,884 removals. It also stated that 92% of removals were immigrants with either criminal convictions or pending charges. The report also broke down the number of convictions and charges by crime that were among the immigrants being arrested and removed.

The Biden administration has taken a dramatically different approach to ICE from the prior administration. After failing to impose a 100-day moratorium on deportations, the administration imposed new restrictions on officers which limited them to targeting only aggravated felons, recent border crossers and national security threats – something Biden officials have said was to focus limited resources on the greatest threats. Additionally, the administration has stopped ICE from making arrests at a range of places, including courthouses, and has halted worksite enforcement raids. 

The policies make it likely that the report could show that arrests and deportations did not increase along with the historic border crisis that marked 2021. 

Fox previously reported that ICE data showed a significant decrease in enforcement in the first months of the Biden administration and that FY 2021 arrest numbers could be as low as 70,000. The Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower levels of immigration overall, cited data in December that showed ICE removals are lower than in not only 2019, but also 2020 – where enforcement had been curtailed significantly because of the pandemic.


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“What I took away from the dramatic decline in both total removals and criminal removals is that this isn’t about being more effective and focusing resources on criminals, this is about reducing deportations as much as possible,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the center, told Fox News.

Vaughan connected the delay in the report to the ongoing crisis at the southern border – where numbers have remained stubbornly high even after the peaks in the summer months.

“I think they don’t want to be seen issuing a report that no matter how they spin it points to a dramatic drop in enforcement of immigration laws at the same time there’s this festering crisis at the border,” Vaughan told Fox News.

“It will show that they’re not trying to deter or control illegal immigration, they’re just trying to manage it, and they’ve seen now that this is not a good message for voters to be getting at this time – this is going to be unpopular,” she said.

Former acting ICE Director Thomas Homan told Fox that he believes ICE will try and massage the numbers in a way to make them seem better, but the contrast with the spiraling crisis at the border will be stark.

“A year of historic illegal immigration at the border, ICE has the lowest number of arrests, removals in the agency, if that doesn’t speak for itself about what the administration is doing,” he said.

Feere said he suspects the result of the purported delay will be a narrower report that will make it harder to compare the data to prior years: “They’re going to do their best to manipulate it to put the best light possible on their horrifically dangerous policies and that takes some time to do.”

But whatever it contains, Feere shares the view that the Biden administration knows that its lack of enforcement is politically damaging.

“The Biden administration’s decision not to publish this report is an admission that they know their policies are extremely damaging and highly unpopular, because if they thought this was good news, if they were proud of their policies, they would be out there having a press conference showing the results of their policies – and they’re not,” he said.

Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News. He can be reached at


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