Nearly 25 percent (150 agents) of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from desks and backroom jobs agents tasked include to finding and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records across the country.
Last fiscal year, the government spent $120.9 million deporting 182,655 people by plane. Of those, 17,777 were flown out of Columbus Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to ICE. And most of them — 13,806 — were deported to Mexico.
Each of the team has given a goal of arresting 50 suspects per month. Team are instructed to focus on kicking out the illegal immigrants convicted of felony or more than two misdemeanors, having fraudulent documents and most importantly breaking the law.
An early draft of the plan says ICE is “experiencing a shortfall in criminal removals for the fiscal year,” and called for using 300 Border Patrol agents, dressed in ICE uniforms, to close the gap. The plan was scaled back to 150 ICE officers after objections were raised by union organizers for the Border Patrol.
ICE Director John Morton defended the program Friday as “the best way to use our limited resources” against those who pose the greatest threat to public safety.
“We changed agency policy to focus fugitive operations more on criminal offenders,” Morton said in a telephone interview. “This is part of a permanent restructuring of agency resources to meet the highest priority of removing serious offenders. … We think that is the right call because at the end of the day public safety is our goal.”