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Horowitz: Enforcement against illegal aliens drops as law enforcement cracks down on American businesses


Lowest number of deportations since 2005

John Moore/Getty Images

As law enforcement is increasingly deployed to arrest business owners for earning a living, criminal aliens are getting a free pass to remain in the country illegally. The same virus that is being used as pretext to criminalize the lives of everyday Americans has also been used as an excuse to keep tens of thousands of additional illegal aliens in this country, many of them with serious rap sheets.

Among the many news items lost in the holiday season was the publication of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) annual report on enforcement activities for fiscal year 2020. According to the report, ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted just 103,603 administrative arrests, a 28% decline from FY 2019 and the lowest number in years. On the removal side, ICE deported 185,000 people, the lowest number since 2005. Also, ICE issued just 122,233 detainers, down from 165,487 detainers in FY 2019.

It's truly hard to overstate the danger this drop in enforcement poses to the U.S. As the report acknowledges, 90% of those arrested by ICE have criminal charges or convictions other than immigration violations. Among those arrested this year were illegal immigrants with criminal histories including more than 1,800 homicide-related offenses, 1,600 kidnappings, 3,800 robberies, 37,000 assaults, and 10,000 sex crimes. In total, there were more than 374,000 criminal convictions and pending charges – an average of four per alien.

Thus, the fact that the number of enforcement actions is down this year, in large part due to the lockdown policies resulting from the virus, does not mean that there weren't more criminal aliens around who pose a danger to society. At present, there are 3.26 million aliens under ICE's undetained docket. These are individuals who have been targeted by ICE for removal, which most likely means the overwhelming majority have criminal records in addition to immigration violations. Just 19,000 of them are currently being detained. That means over 3 million criminal aliens who were dangerous enough to be on ICE's radar remain in the country indefinitely without being deported.

Think about that for a moment. Even the worst of the worst of other countries' criminals get to remain here indefinitely with few resources to remove them. As of 2018, there were more than 1 million illegal aliens who have already received final deportation orders, with another 1.5 million having already received deportation orders but in the process of seeking an appeal.

Even if we focused solely on the bad guys, we lack the resources to make a dent. As early as 2013, DHS estimated, based on ICE programs in local jails, that there were 1.9 million criminal aliens in this country and that 900,000 aliens were arrested every year. Chillingly, the report noted that "550,000 criminal aliens convicted of crimes exit law enforcement custody every year" and that "this population of criminal aliens poses a major threat to public safety." And that was before the sanctuary crisis grew exponentially, resulting in countless criminal aliens being released every day.

Shockingly, this omnibus/coronavirus aid bill that Trump decided to sign, while funding all sorts of wasteful projects, limits ICE's ability to make deportations. The bill prohibits ICE from detaining or deporting illegal aliens who are "a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor" to a UAC so long as they have not been convicted of a felony. As I noted in a series of articles in 2019, these UACs have served as a recruiting pipeline into MS-13 and other violent transnational gangs.

To make matters worse, this bill reduced funding for ICE by $431 million from 2020 levels. "The bill funds 34,000 detention beds, which is 26,000 beds less than the President's budget request and 11,274 less than fiscal year 2020," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), bragging about weakening ICE in the spending bill.

Thus, the very virus that has been used as ploy to lock down the lives of Americans is also being used to ensure that foreign criminals can remain in the country. The same virus that has been harnessed as a tool to criminalize the very presence of Americans living and breathing free air in our own country has been used as an excuse to welcome violent gang members from other countries. And the more they know they can remain in the country without repercussions, the more they will come to the border and add to those numbers. Which is why we are already seeing a surge at the border in anticipation of a Biden presidency.

The border numbers are already the highest they have been since the 2018-2019 border crisis, and more caravans are forming to charge our border. Somehow, I don't see the COVID cultists being too afraid of massive caravans of people from dozens of countries across the globe converging on our border to spread the virus.

Our Founders promised the citizens of this country a Constitution that would "insure domestic Tranquility" and "provide for the common defense" as a means to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." What we are seeing today is a government that secures the curse of tyranny domestically, while failing to protect us from foreign threats.
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