Undocumented Immigrants Rarely Flee Upon Release, U.S. Data Show

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About 1.9% of undocumented immigrants subject to final removal and granted supervised release escaped the system over a two-year period, the U.S. told a judge in a case challenging the Biden administration’s planned 100-day freeze on deportations.

The data, which run from January 2019 to last month and cover almost 23,000 immigrants, was provided Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in federal court in Victoria, Texas, in response to a lawsuit filed by the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott. The figure could undercut arguments that people temporarily released from custody won’t cooperate with the government’s pursuit of their cases.

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton requested the data shortly after the suit was filed, saying it would help him decide whether to grant Abbott’s request for an injunction against the planned pause on deportations during the litigation. Tipton had already issued a temporary restraining order against the Biden administration’s proposed freeze.

“When noncitizens are not subject to mandatory detention, ICE may exercise discretion to release noncitizens who do not pose a danger to the community or who are not considered a flight risk,” the agency said in a filing. “ICE makes such discretionary custody decisions on a case-by-case basis, looking at such factors as an alien’s criminal and immigration history, as well as humanitarian factors, with no single factor being determinative.”

It also told the judge that 511 people subject to final removal were released from custody from Jan. 20, the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, through Jan. 30.

Texas argues that the federal government’s plan to pause deportations violates its duty to enforce immigration law and that it will cause the state to incur unnecessary expenses in providing services to undocumented immigrants and their families.

The case is State of Texas v. U.S., 21-cv-00003, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Victoria).

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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