Though more jurisdictions around the country have adopted so-called “sanctuary” policies to shield illegal aliens from federal removal operations, deportations by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have reached a five-year high.
Several cities and counties adopted sanctuary policies this year, but ICE nevertheless has managed to locate more people in the country illegally, breaking a previous record under President Donald Trump, who has prioritized enforcement of all immigration laws.
According to the Washington Times, the number of Cubans removed from the U.S. has soared, while the number of Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans has also increased, thanks to more cooperation from those governments and a surge of migrants earlier this year.
Meantime, deportations to Mexico fell from 55 percent to 48 percent as ICE made fewer interior arrests.
The are two reasons for that, primarily, ICE officials told the Times: Hundreds of officers were shifted to border duty in order to deal with surges of migrants, and the growing number of sanctuary jurisdictions which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Some include jurisdictions that once contacted ICE agents who picked up illegal aliens at local jails and prisons.
Acting ICE Director Matthew T. Albence said the agency deported 13,000 fewer people in fiscal 2019 than the previous year, which he tied to the “decreased cooperation.”
“Sanctuary cities and counties around the country provide safe haven to criminal illegal aliens, harboring dangerous offenders and releasing them back to the streets, where many will re-offend,” he said.
“These are preventable crimes, and more importantly, preventable victims,” he added.
ICE has not released figures for the number of detainer requests denied this year.
President Trump has made immigration enforcement a priority, including the construction of new wall sections along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Earlier, his administration attempted to withhold Justice Department funds from sanctuary cities for violating terms of the aid but federal judges intervened and ruled on behalf of cities that sued.