Investigative Group

Report: ICE Doesn’t Have Enough Agents To Speed Up Deporting Immigrants

There aren’t enough federal agents on the government’s payroll to keep pace with the growing number of immigrants awaiting deportation, a government watchdog reported Thursday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “is almost certainly not deporting all the aliens who could be deported and will likely not be able to keep up with growing numbers of deportable aliens,” the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report said. (RELATED: Nearly A Third More Immigration Arrests Under Trump Compared To First Months Of 2016)

“ICE does not effectively manage the deportation of aliens who are no longer detained, but are under its supervision,” the report continued. “These management deficiencies and unresolved obstacles make it difficult for ICE to deport aliens expeditiously.”

Both immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally and those here legally but who have been convicted of serious crimes could be eligible for deportation.

A primary problem is there are too few ICE deportation officers supervising a large number of immigrants who are awaiting deportation but are not being detained. (RELATED: Sessions Moves To Quickly Deport Imprisoned Immigrants)

Deportation officers overseeing such immigrants in Washington, D.C., for example, worked an average of 10,000 cases in 2016, according to the report. Yet agents supervising detained immigrants only worked an average of 100 cases for the year.

In fact, supervisors “arbitrarily assign” cases “without regard to the work they entail or whether [deportation officers] will be able to handle the number of cases they are assigned,” the report said.

Deportation officers also need frequent communication with embassies, particularly in countries that are resistant to repatriating citizens, but “the large number of cases they are assigned and their collateral duties” are “hindrances.”

Meanwhile, the agents also face time-consuming responsibilities such as collecting paperwork to prepare immigrants for deportation and checking in with the aliens.

Workloads for deportation officers supervising released aliens “are unmanageable,” but ICE doesn’t know what size caseload is achievable or reasonable.

Deportation officers supervising released immigrants “reported they do not have enough time to obtain necessary travel documents to deport aliens,” the report said. “If workloads were more reasonable and ICE provided better guidance and training, [deportation officers] would likely have more success with these deportations.”

Yet deportation officers are frequently given new orders that take away from their usual tasks, such as 45-day rotations at the southwest border.

“In a particularly troubling example of overworked staff, a [deportation officer] at one field office we visited reported that a heavy workload limited oversight of non-detained aliens in that geographic area that ICE had flagged as risks to national security,” the report said.

“Because of the overwhelming workload, [deportation officers] at these four offices reported they need to work overtime to try to keep up with their caseloads,” the report continued. “Nevertheless, as one [officer] said, ‘you might work 18 hours a day, but you still won’t get caught up.’”

ICE officers are also not required to periodically review case files, which means they may not know if an immigrant has committed a crime or missed a court date. It also showed that ICE officers are not adequately or routinely trained.

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