In March, the ICE arrested 2,214 undocumented immigrants, up from 6,679 in December, Trump’s last full month in office.
The guidelines seemed intended to restrict an emboldened agency under the last administration, setting strict parameters for ICE agents, especially in the event that an undocumented immigrant is encountered who is not targeted.
“If everyone’s priority, then no one is a priority, so we have to make choices about where our resources are going,” said the head of the ICE, stressing the limits of these resources.
The ICE official said the changes boiled down to “far more arrests of serious criminals than grannies” and other so-called collateral arrests – of immigrants encountered by authorities who are not targets of the arrest.
ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson when rolling out the new guidelines earlier this year said it would help “better coordinate our efforts, ensure consistency in our operations, and inform the development of the new guidelines. application of the secretary “.
The policy change has met with mixed reviews from staff, the ICE official said.
“There are of course some officers who do not like this approach as much as others. And others very much appreciate the change and are implementing it with enthusiasm,” said the head of the ICE.
Succeeding with the new approach, said the head of ICE, will bring top-down communication to the field, repetition and a change in tone and message – what the agency is working on “every day”.
Evictions also fell under the Biden administration. Last month, the agency deported 2,886 people, up from 5,838 in December and 10,353 last October.
On inauguration day, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would suspend evictions for 100 days, with a few exceptions, but a Texas federal judge blocked the moratorium, dealing a heavy blow to one of the Biden’s first immigration actions.
The administration argued that the break would give DHS time to review the agency’s policies. Meanwhile, the agency’s law enforcement priorities remained in place, and arrests and deportations slowed significantly.
The ICE official said on Tuesday that there was a “lack of focus” at ICE under the Trump administration, adding that there are downsides to public safety when law enforcement does not do not have a clear direction and allocation of resources.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is focus ICE resources on things that are truly threats to public safety, threats to national security, and that help to strengthen, help establish security. strong border, ”the ICE official said.
DHS is expected to issue department-wide guidelines on application and referrals later this year. As part of this process, ICE is working with its field officers and state and local partners to assess the current interim guidance, the ICE official said.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Maria Santana contributed to this report.