Immigrant Detention Numbers Fall Under Biden, But Border Book-Ins Rise
(15 Mar 2021) As of the end of President Biden's first full month in office, the number of individuals arrested by ICE and booked into civil immigrant detention fell sharply from 5,119 ICE book-in arrests during January 2021 to just 1,970 during February 2021. According to the latest ICE figures, this was a drop of 62 percent just in a single month. Currently 60 percent of those who were in ICE detention facilities during February 2021 had been booked into custody from ICE interior arrests.

In contrast, those turned over to ICE for detention from arrests by the Border Patrol and at ports of entry climbed, from 3,024 to 4,696 in February after the Biden administration began allowing limited numbers of families and adults, particularly those seeking asylum, to enter the United States. (Unaccompanied children are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rather than to ICE for custody pending their placement with relatives or adult sponsors.)

Among these beginning to be allowed into the country were individuals arrested much earlier and forced to remain in Mexico awaiting court hearings. As they entered the country, some were temporarily held in ICE custody as they were being processed. Court records indicate that there were 29,177 individuals with active cases originally assigned to the MPP program at the end of February.

At the end of February 2021, ICE reported a record low of only 13,529 in ICE detention. Around half of the people being held in detention had cases pending before the Immigration Court. Case-by-case data from the Immigration Courts indicated a total of 7,097 individuals of those detained had pending cases before the court at the end of February 2021.

The other approximately half of the detained population were being held after DHS issued expedited removal orders or in cases where ICE was reinstating prior deportation orders when these individuals were arrested after re-entering the country.

To read the full report, including month-by-month ICE detention figures and book-ins from ICE interior arrests, go to:

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