U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Dec. 21 that, over a 10-day period in December, agents arrested 117 illegal aliens who vowed to leave the country voluntarily but failed to do so.
The agency said in a statement that the detained aliens had promised to leave on their own accord rather than face a formal deportation, but never did. The enforcement effort, called “Operation Broken Promise,” found that of the more than 150 individuals in total who were arrested between Dec. 7 and Dec. 17 and are now slated for deportation, 71 percent had criminal convictions or pending charges.
“Our officers are committed to preserving the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws and are strengthening the overall safety, security and well-being of our communities,” Tony Pham, ICE senior official performing the duties of the director, said in a statement.
Under a voluntary departure arrangement, which can be requested by an illegal immigrant and authorized by an immigration judge, individuals targeted for deportation are given up to 120 days to arrange their own departure from the United States. ICE said that voluntary departures have a benefit to taxpayers by lowering the costs of deportations.
Individuals who fail to leave the country under voluntary departure protocols become subject to a final removal order, which ICE enforcement and removal officers carry out as a formal deportation. An illegal reentry following a formal deportation is a felony crime, punishable by up to 20 years behind bars.
It follows a similar announcement by ICE in November, which saw 154 illegal immigrants arrested after failing to self-deport. Of that group of individuals arrested and slated for deportation, 86 percent had criminal convictions or pending charges.
“These crimes include crimes of domestic violence, cruelty toward children, sexual assault, prostitution, burglary, and drug offenses,” Pham said at a November press conference in McAllen, Texas.
Several days ahead of the Nov. 3 election, a senior White House adviser said that a second Trump term would see a tougher stance on immigration and entry into the United States with the aim of protecting the wages and safety of Americans.
Stephen Miller, who made the remarks in his capacity as campaign adviser, told NBC News in an Oct. 29 interview that Trump’s second-term immigration agenda would involve raising and enhancing the standard for entry into the United States and cracking down on illegal immigration, including by tighter restrictions on work visas, stricter visa application screenings, banning “sanctuary cities,” and limiting the number of people granted asylum.
At the time, the Biden campaign responded to Miller’s remarks, with Biden’s Latino media director Jennifer Molina telling NBC, “We are going to win this election so that people like Stephen Miller don’t get the chance to write more xenophobic policies that dishonor our American values.”