Former President Donald Trump came into office more than four years ago on promises to strengthen the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in ways that would allow agents to better perform the jobs they were hired to do.
Recent reports, however, show that Trump’s successor seems just as dedicated to pursuing an opposite approach.
“An administrative abolishment”
Bombshell revelations this week reveal that the Biden administration is seeking to overhaul ICE, likely diminishing the agency’s workforce and cutting down on the number of arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security appears to be behind the effort, as explained in a recent decision by its secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas.
Under Biden’s plan for remaking the agency, those who remain in it will be tasked with focusing on transnational crimes, thus relegating deportations and arrests to a much lower priority level, according to reports.
ICE will reportedly retain its name while shedding many of the responsibilities pertaining to actually keeping the U.S. border safe from an influx of migrants expected to increase now that Biden is in the White House.
In a statement to the Washington Times, a source familiar with the Biden administration’s plans said: “This is an administrative abolishment of ICE as we currently know it.”
ICE agents could be reassigned
For his part, Mayorkas reportedly floated the idea of an ICE overhaul with other DHS leaders, suggesting that the 4,000 ICE agents currently on the job should be reassigned as “criminal investigators” and no longer in the business of deporting undocumented immigrants.
While the lucky agents who get to keep their jobs might receive a pay increase under the plan, it would reportedly come with widespread retraining and an expanded workload.
The move also comes at a particularly precarious time, as NPR reported, as there are currently thousands of migrants moving north from Central America and through Mexico, ultimately headed toward the U.S. border.
Trump’s supporters say he worked for years to gain a foothold on illegal entry into the United States by implementing strong border-control policies and pursuing construction of a border wall.
For those Americans who favored the immigration policies of former President Barack Obama, however, the comparatively lax agenda appears to be returning with a vengeance.