Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported the fewest number of people on record last month in a sign of how the Biden administration is shifting the agency’s mission, The Washington Post reports.
While former President Donald Trump touted the high rate of ICE deportations during his presidency, “ICE under President Biden is an agency on probation,” the Post reported.
ICE deported fewer than 3,000 people last month and the agency’s 6,000 officers now average one arrest every two months, according to the report.
Though Biden has pushed back on progressive calls to abolish ICE entirely, the agency has been significantly reigned in to the point where some ICE officers say their work is “being functionally abolished,” according to the Post.
ICE funding on the block:
Immigration advocates have also pushed the administration to cut the agency’s budget.
Though Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced plans to close two ICE detention centers he told the Post that he opposes reductions to funding and staffing.
“I really am focused on it becoming a premier national security and law enforcement agency,” he told the outlet. “I really want to elevate all of the other work [ICE] does and also ensure that its civil immigration work is well-focused in the service of the national security and public safety mission.”
As a result of the refocused mission, ICE has scaled back street-level enforcement. Under the new rules, deportation officers must seek approval from supervisors to arrest anyone who is not a recent border crosser, national security threat, or violent felon.
Mayorkas said a final version of ICE’s new priorities will make “significant changes.”
“What those changes will be, I am wrestling with right now, quite frankly,” he said.
But many Democrats are pushing Biden to do more.
“They have begun to do a lot of things to roll back the worst pieces of Trump administration policies, and their biggest accomplishment has been changing immigration enforcement in the interior to scale back who is being detained,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told the Post. But she added that the administration still isn’t “where we want them to be” and said “we have to have a [deportation] moratorium to fully assess what’s been going on.”