While Republican lawmakers have expressed frustration that nearly a million illegal immigrants with final orders of deportation remain in the United States, the situation is under control and merely par for the course, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official.
Thursday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) pressed ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale on the 953,507 aliens with final orders of removal who the government has failed to deport.
“Sir, I believe that is a number that is an aggregate number over many many years, it is folks we consider under docket-control that have seen either immigration judges or have filed federal appeals,” Ragsdale responded.
Chaffetz expressed incredulity that such a high number of illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. despite final orders of deportation.
“I would again, suggest that number includes people under docket-control. Some of those people may have, in fact, withholding of removal,” Ragsdale said.
The Utah lawmaker stressed that despite Ragsdale’s excuses, the 953,507 figure is a number from ICE, Ragsdale’s agency.
“It may very well be accurate,” Ragsdale said. “What I am suggesting is that number does not mean every single one of these people are amenable to removal as of right now.”
When pressed for more clarity, Ragsdale continued, “In other words, someone who may be [from] a country, of let’s say Syria, where they have a criminal record and could not get asylum, they still might be granted a different form of protection, they would be included in that number.”
When Chaffetz interjected that an order for removal should result in removal, Ragsdale responded that the issue is “a little more complicated.”
“It’s not quite that simple. So in other words, you get a removal order but we may not remove you to the country from where you’re from,” Ragsdale said.
“But they’re not in this country legally, they’re ordered removed, so in your Syria example, then what do you do?” Chaffetz asked.
“That is why they are included in that number,” the ICE official responded, affirming that aliens in that situation are allowed to remain in the United States, unless a third party country agrees to take them.