ICE Prepares to Deport Roughly One Million People

Trump demands action from Congress on asylum

U.S. Border Patrol agent / Getty Images

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is gearing up to deport more than one million illegal immigrants who have been denied asylum or otherwise have final removal orders.

Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli defended the plan during a Sunday appearance on CBS's Face the Nation, the New York Daily News reports.

ICE is "ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find, detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders," Cuccinelli said.

President Donald Trump previously promised to initiate mass deportations in June, but delayed them at the last minute following an extended negotiation with House Democrats.

"I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes," Trump tweeted shortly thereafter. "This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big Deportation begins!"

In the intervening time, there has been no movement on asylum reform in either chamber of Congress, although both the House and Senate have passed a funding bill to provide $4.5 billion in funding to cope with the crisis on the southwestern border. Trump hinted Friday that deportations would start "fairly soon."

According to Cuccinelli, the planned deportations are a necessary part of responding to that crisis. ICE detention facilities are the "second stage of the border crisis," Cuccinelli said on Face the Nation. "We focus so much on the Border Patrol. But the reason you see overcrowding in those facilities is because they can’t be moved to the facilities where they were expected to go."

The number of individuals in custody has indeed swelled along with border apprehensions, according to Customs and Border Protection. Many of these individuals are held awaiting final judgements on their applications for asylum, roughly 65 percent of which were denied in 2018.

The most recent estimates indicate that there are roughly 10.5 million illegal immigrants currently resident in the United States; in 2017, the majority were non-Mexican for the first time in more than 25 years.