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ICE arrests and deportations started to pick up in 2022, a federal report shows

The U.S. is seeing a rising number of asylum-seekers turning themselves in at the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of the lifting of Title 42.
Rebecca Noble
/
AFP via Getty Images
The U.S. is seeing a rising number of asylum-seekers turning themselves in at the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of the lifting of Title 42.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement made more arrests and deportations this past fiscal year after dropping to significant lows during the pandemic.

Between Oct. 2021 and Sept. 30, immigration authorities made over 142,000 arrests. That's nearly double the number conducted in the year prior, according to government figures released last month.

ICE also carried out more than 72,000 deportations — a slight increase from fiscal year 2021, when numbers dipped to a historic low since the agency's creation in 2003.

The agency said its workload "increased significantly" this past fiscal year due to a surge of migrants fleeing Central and South America to seek refuge in the U.S.

For much of the Biden administration, ICE agents have largely focused on arresting and deporting people with criminal histories — a sharp contrast to the Trump administration, which had empowered the agency to detain anyone unauthorized to live in the U.S.

But this past fiscal year, people with criminal histories no longer made up a majority of ICE arrests during Biden's presidency. Instead, immigrants without any known criminal convictions made up a bulk of the arrests — tripling in size compared to fiscal year 2021. The agency said it was a result of its agents helping Customs and Border Protection officers process migrants during a record surge of apprehensions.

Nearly half of the 2.3 million encounters on the southern border resulted in expulsions under Title 42 — the public health rule that essentially allows border agents to bypass normal immigration procedures and rapidly expel migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum.

Similar to fiscal year 2021, the U.S. reported over a million expulsions this past fiscal year — indicating Title 42's strong foothold on the southern border despite the Biden administration's efforts to wind down the restrictions.

The policy was put in place by the Trump administration during the early months of the pandemic aimed at stopping the spread of COVID.

The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments about the future of the pandemic border restrictions in February.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.