At current deportation rates, it would take Immigration and Customs Enforcement 140 years to deport all the illegal immigrants from a spike in border crossing over the past two years, ICE acting director Matt Albence said Wednesday.
That estimate doesn’t include the millions of other illegal immigrants who’ve been in the U.S. before the past two years. ICE added 900,000 cases to its non-detained docket in the past two years, which now totals more than 3.3 million, the Washington Times reported.
“We arrested about 2,500 non-criminal fugitives last year. If we do that, based on just the numbers that came in the last two years, it would take us about 140 years to clear up that backlog,” Albence told the House Appropriations Committee.
He told committee members that ICE cannot keep pace with illegal crossings into the country and deportations, and defended the administration’s significant budget increase request for fiscal year 2021. The budget requests additional resources, including 60,000 detention beds each day — 15,000 more than Congress approved for this current year. For comparison, the Obama administration had 34,000 beds in its final years.
Albence also requested for Congress to expand the number of immigration lawyers to help immigration courts, where there is at least a one million-person backlog — double the number when Donald Trump took office in January 2017.
“Without additional resources to actually effectuate a judge’s removal orders, we will have an immigration enforcement and court system in which billions of dollars a year are spent to obtain orders, that are not worth the paper they are written on,” Albence added.
Albence defended deportations against the Democrats’ claims they scare away immigrants from cooperating with local police.
“It’s a lot of NGOs and the like that are out there are stirring this up that we’re arresting the victims. It’s just not the case,” he said.
Some estimates show there are at least 22 million illegal immigrants in the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Of the 3.3 million in ICE’s non-detained docket, 600,000 are fugitives, which means they’ve been ordered to be removed and are actively defying the order.
The Trump administration has made a number of changes that has dramatically cut the need for deportations by helping stop illegal crossings in the United States.
Under the “Remain in Mexico” policy Trump enacted in at the end 2018, would-be illegal immigrants are kept in Mexico while their asylum claims are evaluated, rather than let them free in the United States. The Remain in Mexico policy reduced the number of illegal crossings by 70 percent from May to September 2019.
Another plan by the Trump administration to cut illegal crossing is building the protective wall at the southern border, which cut illegal crossing in El Paso, Texas, by more than 70 percent.
DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf recently said that the department is in process of or has recently completed building 700 miles of border wall.
“We are building the border wall system on the southwest border,” Wolf said. “So, this is new infrastructure, new capability on the southwest border that our border patrol agents have never had before, and it’s under this administration that we are building new wall systems along the southwest border.”