Top ICE Official Admits Biden Administration Detaining, Removing Fewer Illegal Immigrants

Zachary Stieber

A top U.S. immigration enforcement official has acknowledged that President Joe Biden's administration is detaining and removing fewer illegal immigrants than earlier administrations.

"Since President Biden became president on January 20, 2021, ERO is removing less aliens, correct?" Florida Chief Deputy Attorney General John Guard asked Corey Price, executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which is part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

"That's correct," Price responded.

"Director, ICE currently is removing less aliens from the United States than it has in the last decade, right?" Guard asked.

"I do not have the last 10 years' data available. But it is less than at least the last four years that I have here," Price said.

ICE only detained 45,680 illegal immigrants in 2021, about half as many as it did in 2020. And in 2022, the agency has only detained about 48,200 illegal immigrants.

Price was speaking during a deposition for a case filed against the Biden administration by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Price was later shown an email sent soon after Biden took office to top immigration officials, including acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, by Henry Lucero, the executive associate director of ERO.

Lucero informed the officials that the Biden administration's change in immigration enforcement policies would likely reduce detention numbers by half.

"And given the data that we just looked at ... Lucero [and other officials] were almost right on the money on their predictions, correct?" Guard asked.

"That appears correct," Price said.

ICE, its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

"Our deposition provides even more proof that the Biden administration is intentionally underenforcing federal immigration law in a way that has never been seen. At every phase of the process, Biden is purposely failing to enforce the law and detain and remove inadmissible immigrants," Moody, a Republican, said in a statement.

"Career ICE officials warned the administration that their reckless policies would drastically cut enforcement and still Biden continued to implement them—proving yet again, we only have Biden to blame for the border crisis and the surge in American deaths from Mexican fentanyl," she added.


Under Biden, illegal immigration has skyrocketed while enforcement, such as deportations, has plummeted.

For instance, in fiscal year 2021, during which Biden took office, just 59,011 deportations were executed. That was down from 185,884 illegal aliens removed in fiscal year 2020—former President Donald Trump's last full fiscal year in office—and 267,258 in fiscal year 2019, the last full fiscal year that did not include the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arrests were also down, dropping from 143,099 in fiscal year 2019 to just 74,082 in fiscal year 2021, according to end-of-year reports that were previously made public by ICE.

The numbers for fiscal year 2022 are not yet available. There is one month remaining in the fiscal year. ICE typically releases the figures about six months after a fiscal year ends.

ICE is in charge of enforcing immigration law in the U.S. interior, and ERO is an arm of the agency.

Raul Ortiz, the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, tasked with manning the U.S. borders, said in a deposition obtained as part of the same suit that the spike in illegal immigration was due to a lack of consequences for many illegal aliens.

The case, which argues that the Biden administration is violating federal law by not detaining illegal aliens until a final decision is made regarding their presence in the United States, is set to go on trial in January 2023.