Illegal Immigrant Deportation Requests Plummet under Biden

Drop in ICE Detainers: Biden Administration’s Immigration Enforcement Shift

In the first months of the Biden administration, new data reveals a significant drop in detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for jailed illegal immigrants. This reduction in interior immigration enforcement is part of a broader strategy implemented by the administration. Detainers are crucial requests issued by ICE to be notified when an illegal immigrant in another law enforcement agency’s custody is being released, allowing agents to transfer them into deportation proceedings. The decline in detainers has sparked debates over the administration’s approach to immigration enforcement.

I. Understanding the role of ICE detainers and their significance-

  • ICE detainers as a tool to protect local communities and maintain public safety
  • Detainers at the center of the “sanctuary city” debate, limiting cooperation with local law enforcement

II. Data reveals a sharp decrease in detainers under the Biden administration

  • TRAC data shows a drop from approximately 10,000 detainers per month at the end of the Trump administration to under 3,000 in the early months of the Biden administration
  • Detainers increase to just under 4,000 by September 2021

III. Comparison of detainer usage under previous administrations

  • Obama administration’s peak usage of detainers in fiscal year 2010, dropping under 100,000 by fiscal 2015
  • Under Trump administration, detainers reached a high of 175,000 per year

IV. Restriction of ICE priorities and its impact on detainer usage

  • Biden administration’s efforts to impose a moratorium on all ICE deportations were blocked by a federal judge
  • Focus shifted to three categories of illegal immigrants: recent border crossers, national security threats, and public safety threats
  • Other restrictions, including limiting where ICE could make arrests
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V. Correlation between detainer decrease and deportations

  • A significant drop in deportations in fiscal year 2021, with only 59,011 deportations compared to previous years’ figures
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praising the new strategy as a fundamental change in immigration enforcement

VI. Legal challenges and Supreme Court ruling

  • Republican-led states challenged the ICE priorities, but the Biden administration won at the Supreme Court
  • Mayorkas applauds the ruling and plans to reinstate the guidelines


The Biden administration’s shift in immigration enforcement has led to a decrease in detainers issued by ICE for jailed illegal immigrants. With a focus on prioritizing recent border crossers, national security threats, and public safety threats, the administration aims to provide more effective law enforcement by targeting limited resources and enforcement actions. While the decline in detainers has sparked debates, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the administration’s immigration policies strengthens their ability to implement these changes. The impact of this shift will continue to be examined as the administration seeks to strike a balance between immigration enforcement and public safety.