Low number of immigrants detained by ICE after Title 42 termination

Encouraging numbers for immigrants detained by ICE.

A new report by the Transactional Records Access and Information Center (TRAC) at Syracuse University in New York showed that the number of immigrants detained in ICE detention centers decreased significantly after midnight on May 11, when Title 42 ended.

This “health” policy was implemented in 2020 during Donald Trump’s presidency during the COVID-19 pandemic, justifying in the name of citizens’ health expedited deportations at the border. After nearly three years of back and forth in the courts, the Biden administration was finally able to end the measure in May 2023. Now, the new figures issued by TRAC seem encouraging for both the government and the migrant community in the country.

Table of Contents

    What is Title 42?

    Title 42 refers to a section of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act that gives the government broad authority to take public health and border controlmeasures during health emergencies. This section of the law was enacted in 1944 and was originally designed to prevent the spread of disease and protect public health.

    Under Title 42, the U.S. government has the authority to restrict or prohibit the entry of persons into the country when they are deemed to pose a risk to public health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government invoked Title 42 to partially close the border and quickly remove incoming immigrants and asylum seekers. Under this measure, thousands of people were deported without the opportunity to file a formal asylum application or receive a proper assessment of their individual cases.

    The use of Title 42 has been the subject of controversy and criticism, with several disputes and court challenges. Finally, after years of debate, on May 11 the policy was eliminated by the Joe Biden administration.

    What do the ICE numbers say?

    According to figures released by TRAC, the number of immigrants detained in ICE detention centers who are in deportation proceedings, as well as those immigrants who were released on parole or bond under the Alternative Detention Program (ATD), has dropped considerably.

    Now, as of May 11 – the termination date of Title 42 – the number of immigrants detained is 21,293, which represents one of the lowest numbers in immigration since May 2021. Of that number, 9,882 of those aliens were arrested by the state of Texas, 4,482 by Louisiana, and in third place, 1,779 in California.

    On the other hand, the number of migrants conditionally released under the ATD program has also been progressively declining since the beginning of the preparations for the end of Title 42. As of May 6, there were 242,418 migrants released under the program, compared to 253,146 in April and 377,980 in December 2022.

    Who are the detainees?

    Persons arrested by the Border Patrol are individuals of foreign nationality who are being processed under Title 8 of the Immigration Act, either due to inadmissibility for having committed crimes or having been previously deported.

    Also included are those who, after an initial assessment, are found to have probable evidence of eligibility to apply for asylum, and their cases are referred to the Immigration Court (EOIR) and remanded to ICE custody, in accordance with due process.

    What is the reason for the decrease in the number of detainees?

    It is still too early for an in-depth analysis, and TRAC experts have not made any announcements, but everything seems to point to the fact that the decrease in detentions is related to the changes made at the border by Biden.

    The President made a series of border measures and changes to prosecutions in preparation for the end of Title 42 in order to alleviate burdens at the border and immigration courts, optimizing processing performance that by the time they operate without the health policy.

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