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Deportations up, but backlog of ICE fugitives also grows

December 14, 2018

The U.S. deported more than 256,000 people in fiscal year 2018, Homeland Security announced Friday, as the Trump administration’s tougher policies took full effect.

But more than 560,000 other illegal immigrants are fugitives, at large in communities though they’ve been ordered deported, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a report detailing its enforcement for the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

And acting ICE Chief Ronald D. Vitiello warned they might have to release more people from detention because the agency’s finances are being stretched so far, facing both interior challenges and the new surge at the border.

He said that same thing happened because of budget constraints during the Obama years in 2013, when a “large” release, including some with serious criminal records, were set free.

“We’re worried that might happen to us again,” he said.

Of the 256,000 total deportations, 145,262 were convicted criminals, and 22,796 had criminal charges pending. The others were snared and ousted on immigration charges.

Among those removed last year were nearly 5,900 known or suspected gang members.

More than 95,000 of those deported were from ICE arrests from the interior of the U.S., marking a major surge.

But at-large arrests those made by teams of officers out in the field was only up 1 percent, Mr. Vitiello said. He said that’s because ICE personnel has had to be deployed to the border to deal with the massive surge of illegal immigrants, and particularly children and families.

He said without more money, the agency is soon going to face tough choices about enforcement.

Under the previous administration, illegal immigrants without major criminal records or multiple misdemeanors were generally ignored once they were in the interior. That carved more than 80 percent of illegal immigrants out of serious danger of deportation.

The Trump administration, while still focusing on criminals, has said rank-and-file illegal immigrants are once again targets.

Still, the 95,00 deportations from the interior are less than 1 percent of the 10.7 million unauthorized migrants the Pew Research Center says were in the country as of 2016.

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