In light of the massive surge of illegal border crossings reported last week, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), joined by Senators Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting critical information on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s record of apprehensions during the Biden Administration. 

Interior enforcement by ICE is a key tool for deterring illegal immigration by holding criminal aliens accountable through apprehensions and deportations. But new policies under the Biden Administration are hamstringing officers from making arrests in the field, all while the crisis at the border worsens. In many cases, the Biden Administration now requires ICE officers to get permission to make an apprehension through a time-intensive preapproval system, which has resulted in plummeting arrests. Congress and the public have no insight into how this new system is operating, its impact on field enforcement operations, or how decisions are made to “approve” or “deny” an apprehension request. 

“This information is vital for public accountability but also for public safety. We are aware of several cases from the field in which ICE officers were directed not to apprehend previously-deported aliens that have been convicted of felonies, such as sex crimes against minors. This follows public reporting that interior arrests by ICE dropped to the lowest level on record following the implementation of new enforcement guidance,” wrote the Senators. “In order to uphold immigration law and keep our communities safe, we need transparency into which criminal aliens are being allowed to walk free and why.”

Under federal law, when five members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs request information from an agency within the committee’s jurisdiction, the agency is required to provide that information.

Read the full letter here.
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