WASHINGTON (AP) — Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officers aren't doing a good job of keeping track of immigrants facing deportation but released from jail, an internal government watchdog has concluded.
The Homeland Security Department's inspector general found that ICE deportation officers are routinely assigned to manage thousands of cases at a time and are so overburdened that the agency likely isn't deporting all the immigrants it could.
Part of the problem, it said in a report, is that deportation officers are routinely assigned duties beyond overseeing their caseloads, including checking in immigrants for routine interviews or driving immigrants from detention centers to court.
The result is that these officers don't have enough time to make sure travel and identity documents are gathered for people ordered back to their home countries.
ICE "will likely not be able to keep up with growing numbers of deportable (immigrants)," the report said. They said that ICE couldn't explain why caseloads were so heavy or how staffing decisions and assignments were made.
The auditors made five recommendations, including that ICE come up with a plan to appropriately staff deportation operations. ICE agreed with all of the recommendations and said the agency is working on fixes.
The report comes amid stepped up enforcement by ICE agents tasked with finding and arresting immigrants in the country illegally. Since President Donald Trump took office in January, ICE has arrested more than 21,000 people, an increase of about 40 percent compared to the same time period in 2016. Deportations during that same time have dipped slightly.
Trump has proposed hiring 10,000 new ICE agents, though it's unclear what jobs those new agents would fill.
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