ICE Chief: ‘Quite Common’ for DHS to Have ‘No Information’ on Migrants Freed into U.S. from Southern Border

by JOHN BINDER 13 Jun 2024

Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Patrick Lechleitner says, “It’s quite common” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to have “no information” on migrants that are subsequently released into the United States from the southern border.

Lechleitner’s remarks come after eight Tajikistani migrants, linked to the Islamic State (ISIS), were arrested this week across three states by ICE agents after they crossed the border, had background checks conducted, and no information — at the time — alerted DHS officials to their terrorism ties.

During the interview with NewsNation, Lechleitner was specifically asked about the ISIS-linked migrants and how they were allowed to enter the U.S. after crossing the border.

“Well listen, we have individuals that are coming across and they’ve [had background checks done] and Customs and Border Protection are the ones who encounter them at the border, it’s not [ICE] but sometimes there’s just no information on individuals,” Lechleitner said:

It’s quite common where there’s just nothingm where you don’t have anything, there’s no criminal convictions, there’s no threat information, or whatever on these individuals
or maybe these individuals are from an area of particular concern but that pops up later when you get information later on. As soon as we become aware of any information, like this case we’re working and collaborating with the FBI, we went out and got them. [Emphasis added]

The comments are significant as President Joe Biden’s DHS has transformed the border into a European-style checkpoint where the overwhelming majority of migrants, potentially 9-in-10, are apprehended, briefly detained, and then released into American communities with court dates set years in the future.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published in January revealed that DHS, since Biden took office, has welcomed more than 6.2 million migrants to the U.S. interior.

In another portion of the NewsNation interview, Lechleitner said the record inflow of illegal immigration over the last few years has ensured that one ICE agent is responsible for thousands of immigration cases.

“As an example, that’s like a probation or parole officer overseeing about 7,000 people … yeah, it’s silly, it’s really crazy,” Lechleitner said. “It’s just so large and it’s untenable.”

Specifically, Lechleitner said ICE needs Congress to fund at least 50,000 detention beds. This is well above the 25,000 detention beds that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requested.

Even if Congress funded Lechleitner’s request for detention beds, it would make up a fraction of those migrants on ICE’s non-detained docket.

For example, by the end of Fiscal Year 2023, there were 6.2 million migrants in deportation proceedings but who were not detained and living freely throughout the U.S. — suggesting many more detention beds would be needed, as well as a huge expansion of monitoring programs, to ensure migrants are properly tracked by the agency.