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ICE Arrests Plummet in February after Biden Policy Changes

ICE Field Office Director, Enforcement and Removal Operations, David Marin, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Fugitive Operations team search for a Mexican national at a home in Hawthorne, Calif., March 1, 2020. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plummeted in February following changes in the types of arrests encouraged by the Biden administration.

ICE arrests dropped by 60 percent in February compared with the final three months of the Trump administration, according to data obtained by the Washington Post. Deportations have declined by roughly the same amount.

On February 18, ICE issued temporary guidelines restricting arrests of illegal immigrants to those who pose a national security threat, possess an aggravated felony conviction, or entered the U.S. on or after November 1, 2020. ICE agents must request approval from supervisors before arresting any illegal immigrants who don’t fall under those categories.

President Biden signed an executive order halting deportations of some illegal immigrants in January, soon after taking office. The halt was subsequently blocked by a federal judge in Texas, however deportations have still declined during the month of February.

The attorneys general of Arizona and Montana on Tuesday extended a lawsuit seeking to force ICE to make arrests of suspects who fall outside the categories listed by the Biden administration.

“Arizona’s law enforcement community is particularly concerned that aliens who have been charged or convicted of crimes will be released as a result of DHS’s 100-day moratorium,” the complaint by the attorneys general reads. “Montana’s law enforcement community is particularly concerned that DHS’s 100-day moratorium will exacerbate the serious drug trafficking problems associated with illegal immigration that have afflicted communities across the state.”

The news comes as the Biden administration attempts to roll back immigration restrictions enacted during the Trump presidency. Additionally, the Biden administration is facing a massive influx of migrants at the southern border. Customs and Border Protection announced on Tuesday that it would shut down three highway checkpoints in Arizona in order to transfer personnel to handle the influx.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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