Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are overworked and losing track of immigrants who pose national security threats, according to an inspector general report released Thursday.
The report found that the average workload for ICE officers in Washington D.C. are responsible for 10,156 non-detained immigrants on average, while officers in Atlanta are responsible for 5,337 cases.
“You might work 18 hours a day, but you still won’t get caught up,” one officer told the inspector general’s office.
The IG report said that in one “particularly troubling example of overworked staff,” an ICE officer’s heavy workload limited his oversight of immigrants in the area that ICE had “flagged as risks to national security.”
In a Tuesday speech, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly spoke about “special interest aliens,” which are illegal immigrants smuggling in from regions such as the Middle East. “We don’t get to vet them. We don’t know their intentions. We don’t know they’re here. They slip into our country unnoticed, living among us, and we are completely blind as to what they are capable of,” Kelly said.
President Trump signed an executive order shortly after entering office that called for the hiring of 10,000 new ICE agents. ICE is working to implement this, but congressional funding is needed. The IG report specifically mentioned staffing shortages causing deportation officers having to take on other duties instead of focusing on the “whereabouts of the non-detained aliens deemed to be a risk.”
ICE responded to the findings in the report by saying they are working on implementing the staffing changes called for in Trump’s executive order.