Several officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement have received orders to reduce the number of arrests of criminal illegal aliens to make bedspace for additional migrants apprehended at the southern border, according to a report from the Washington Times.
The outlet highlighted that the directive does not appear to be a nationwide order but that it had been sent to select field offices for the agency. At least one office told the outlet that agents had received orders to focus on class A felons, the top tier of criminal actors.
“We are being told to abandon detention of anyone without a class A felony like murder in preparation for border flights,” the officer told the Times. “To ensure they had room for planeloads, they told the field not to make any arrests unless it is an extreme severity charge.”
Such orders come amid an unprecedented migrant surge that has seen 2.4 million migrants enter the U.S. in fiscal year 2022 alone, while roughly 4 million have entered since President Joe Biden took office.
ICE maintains a current bed capacity for approximately 34,000 beds. Biden’s proposed 2023 budget would slash capacity to 25,000 beds, the outlet noted.
The report comes amid analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies indicating that the Biden administration domestically arrested roughly 71% fewer migrants over its first nine months than the Trump administration did during a comparable period in 2019.
The Times further highlighted other agent commentary, with one speculating that orders to reduce arrests and prospective capacity reductions implied the administration was deliberately undermining their efforts.
“My opinion is that they want the border opened… by obfuscating the process so much they can claim they have things under control while they let everyone in,” that agent told the outlet.