Update: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were instructed to “release them all” in an internal email, spurring confusion at the agency. Later, an ICE official said the order was only in reference to “high risk detainees,” meaning those vulnerable to COVID-19. This story has been updated to include this new information.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, tasked with enforcing federal immigration law, are being instructed to free all detainees in their custody, as President Joe Biden’s administration halts deportations.
An internal January 21 ICE memo, independently reviewed by Breitbart News and first reported by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, orders agents to “stop all removals,” including land and air deportations.
In addition, the memo tells agents that “all cases” of detainees in ICE custody are now to be considered “no significant likelihood of removal in foreseeable future” — suggesting all detainees will need to be released.
“Release them all, immediately,” the ICE official wrote to staff in the memo. Typically, if detainees do not have sponsors in the United States, agents can hold an individual in their custody. The memo, though, states that is no longer the case and that even detainees without sponsors must be released.
Days later, an ICE assistant director of field operations responded to the internal email saying it was only in reference to detainees who are at “high risk” of contracting the coronavirus. The communications have caused confusion at the agency for many staff who are unsure how and what orders to carry out.
“Just spoke to [redacted] HRD means High risk detainees. These detainees are Fraihat cases. They were holding some Fraihat as their removal was imminent,” the ICE official writes in the email. “With the pause, their custody will have to be redetermined. Sadly that’s not the way it reads.”
It is unclear if ICE is currently carrying out the mass release of all 14,195 detainees in its custody, 71.45 percent of whom are convicted criminals or have pending criminal charges. These detainees are currently held in approximately 138 facilities across the United States.
ICE has halted all deportations, regardless of the criminal convictions of an illegal alien, as a result of Biden’s executive order stopping removals for at least 100 days. The initiative is a long-term goal of the open borders lobby, which has sought a permanent end to deportations.
ICE officials have not responded to a request for comment in time for this publication.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.