ICE Air Operations flew more removal flights during a one-week period than rates seen shortly before the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. Last week, new figures indicated the Biden Administration quietly flew 29 deportation flights to seven different countries, outpacing the average of 27 per week flown prior to March 2020.
Breitbart Texas reviewed data for ICE Air Operations aircraft for the week of August 15 to August 22 and saw 29 removal flights for an unknown number of passengers from the United States. This is nearly triple the weekly amount since the domestic arrival of COVID-19.
During the week, ICE Air Operations, responsible for conducting domestic and international movements of migrants, flew more than 300 hours at a cost of $8,500 per.
The data show ICE Air conducted the removal flights to eight countries. Ten flights were to various locations in Mexico. Several went to Chiapas—the Mexican border state near Guatemala.
Planes also flew to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Haiti, and Ecuador.
According to a CBP source, the move to ramp up removals is directly related to the situation in the Rio Grande Valley and the Del Rio Sector, where Border Patrol is resorting to outdoor detention due to facility overcrowding.
ICE has not revealed much about the flights and provides little data, if any, in response to media inquiries. The data are gathered from commercial flight tracking sources focusing on equipment currently under contract to ICE Air. Recently, as reported by Breitbart Texas, the agency began removal flights to Cuba despite a crackdown on protesters in July.
The level of removal flights conducted under the Biden Administration has now reached and exceeded the levels per week under the Trump administration in February and early March 2020. According to the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), data uncovered in a report shows an average of 27 removal flights per week for the six consecutive weeks prior to March 15, 2020.
During the subsequent six weeks after lockdowns began, flights dropped sharply to an average of 11 per. These levels plateaued until August 2021.
The increase in removal flights might already be showing an impact on the number of migrants seeking to enter the United States illegally. Although the increasing number of removal flights are not highly publicized, word amongst migrants generally spreads fast. According to a source within CBP, migrant apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley are showing modest reductions.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.