Immigration

Is ICE Expediting Deportations to Stymie Biden?


Recent events suggest that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is attempting to stymie the Biden administration’s attempt to make changes to America’s immigration policies. As the Biden administration was preparing to take office, the Trump administration was signing last minute agreements with some cities and states that forces the Biden administration to consult with the entities that signed the agreements before making changes to America’s immigration policies.

In late January, the outgoing Trump administration signed several agreements with an unknown number of cities and states. News sources have reported that among the jurisdictions that signed the agreements, include Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas.

The agreements force the Biden administration into a 180-day pause before ordering changes to America’s immigration policies.

Specifically, the SAFE agreements noted that “a decrease or pause on returns or removals of removable or inadmissible aliens” had detrimental effects upon the communities that signed the agreements.

Shortly after the Biden administration issued an order pausing deportations for 100 days, the State of Texas filed a lawsuit challenging the pause on deportations by citing the agreement between the state and DHS.

A few days later a federal judge blocked Biden’s deportation pause.

The last-minute agreements suggest that the Trump administration was attempting to limit Biden’s ability to make changes to America’s immigration policies. [1]

Hasty Deportation of Haitians

On February 3, 2021, over 100 Haitians were deported via El Paso. Using Title 42, a health safety protocol enacted as the result of Covid-19, DHS deported several Haitian immigrants through El Paso and Tijuana. Many Haitian immigrants were wearing their DHS-issued sandals and only had the clothes they were wearing reported having their documents taken away from them.

Title 42 is separate from deportations due to immigration status. Tracking Title 42 deportations is separate from administrative deportations, according to Customs and Border Patrol. The Title 42 deportations are supposed to be for health-related issues only.

According to Border Patrol data, in October, November and December of 2020, the Border Patrol deported 183,434 individuals through the southern border. [2]

During the first week of February 2021, over 100 Haitian asylum seekers were deported through El Paso over several days. [3]

Although the Biden administration has ordered a 100-day pause to deportation in addition to ordering a review of immigration policies through executive orders, ICE continues to deport as many immigrants as it can. Citing the Sanctuary for Americans First Enacted (SAFE) Agreement, Texas argued that Biden’s order cannot be implemented. A judge agreed.

As soon as the Texas judge halted Biden’s deportation pause, “a rush to deport as many people as possible” ensued. [3]

Under Title 42, the deported Haitians were not part of Biden’s 100-day pause as they were being deported due to health concerns. [3]

However, the Title 42 agreement with México does not include citizens of Haiti. [3]

Immigration activists feel that processes were purposely put in place by the outgoing Trump administration to slow down the Biden administration’s immigration policy changes. [3]

Without Socks and Documents

The Haitian immigrants that were deported out of El Paso arrived in Juárez “without socks or shoes” and some reported having their documentation taken away from them by immigration officials. [3]

Is ICE Intent On Delaying Immigration Policy Changes?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has become a militarized police force used to quell riots and has become a deportation force, rather than a security agency.

The Border Patrol has a culture of racism among its ranks.

On October 13, 2020, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate released a Democratic Staff Report titled, DHS Run Amok? In it, the Senate investigators documented an illegal operation by DHS officials to relocate Honduran migrants to the Guatemala-Honduras border.

The rush to expel the Haitian immigrants, the agreements created on the last days of the Trump administration and the history of ICE under Trump suggests that a systematic agency-wide resistance to changes in America’s immigration policies exists.

Footnotes:

  1. Elliot Spagat, “Trump agreements seek to tie Biden’s hands on immigration,” The Washington Post, January 25, 2021.
  2. “Nationwide Enforcement Encounters: Title 8 Enforcement Actions and Title 42 Expulsions,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Press Release, January 7, 2021.
  3. Jacqueline Charles, Michael Wilner and Monique O. Madan, “Biden team under fire for deportation uptick, backing Moise as Haiti tensions multiply,” Miami Herald, February 6, 2021.

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