Expert Insight: Biden Administration Deprioritizes Criminal Alien Deportation in FY24 Budget

Key Takeaways

The Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal for Immigration and Customs Enforcement contains record-low target removals of criminal aliens, which compromises the safety of all Americans.

The proposed budget confirms that the Department of Homeland Security is not prioritizing limited resources but is instead seeking to maximize the number of illegal aliens, including dangerous criminal aliens, who are allowed to stay in the country.

The America First approach to homeland security includes strong immigration enforcement and prompt deportation of any bad actors, accompanied by higher ICE removal targets to meet this goal.

The Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 24 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget proposal reveals that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targets for criminal alien removals are continuing to plummet. For the second year in a row, target deportations of “noncitizens who have a prior criminal conviction” was set at 29,389. This number marks a 68% decrease from the target of 91,500 for FY22 and a 76% decrease from the average of the five-year targets from FY17–FY21. Target deportations are the number of deportations ICE should aim to carry out in a given year, and “noncitizens who have a prior criminal conviction” are also known as criminal illegal aliens.

Notably, actual removals of criminal aliens by ICE have dropped significantly during the Biden Administration despite the record number of illegal aliens apprehended at the southern border and released into American communities. Actual removals in FY22 and FY21 amounted to less than half of the targets set for ICE in those years, despite a significant increase in the number of convictions of criminal aliens for a wide range of illegal activity. By comparison, removals under the Trump Administration met and exceeded targets, which were set much higher, ranging from 126,000–151,000. Even when met with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, removals in FY20 were nearly triple those of FY21 and FY22. The discrepancy between these targets is at the heart of the Biden Administration’s refusal to take enforcement action to uphold the rule of law.

FY24 DHS Budget: Targets for Removal of Illegal Aliens who Have a Prior Criminal Conviction from the United States by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.


Target Deportations

Actually Deported






















The Biden Administration’s budget proposal is also entirely contradictory to DHS’s earlier narrative that it would prioritize the removal of “national security, public safety and border security threats” due to limited resources. Its stated focus on removing these threats does not match the target numbers for ICE that it has put forward. At the same time, the reality of this situation is that record-low numbers of criminal aliens are being deported while the rest of the illegal alien population has been essentially shielded from consequences. Under the Biden Administration’s policies of non-enforcement, more illegal aliens are allowed to stay in the country, and more will come, including those who intend to commit crimes against Americans, because there is no deterrent.

If any reminder is needed, the failure to deport criminal aliens has gruesome and devastating side effects. In FY21, the number of criminal alien convictions in every category of criminal offenses surged after dropping the past few years. Crimes in every category, including homicide, assault, theft, burglary, drug possession, kidnapping, sexual assault, and others, surpassed the total committed by illegal aliens during all four years of the Trump Administration.

In recent months, law enforcement officers in border counties have also testified about the noticeable spike in aggravated attacks on the law enforcement community by criminal illegal aliens. Victims include sheriffs who have been seriously injured and even killed on the job when trying to stop smuggling or unlawful crossing. Additionally, the cartels’ recruitment of American citizens to smuggle drugs and illegal aliens across the border has resulted in devastating car crashes that have killed or injured more innocent people.

These incidents, and others, are the disastrous results of open border policies and the failure to enforce the law against criminal illegal aliens. The deaths and injuries of countless Americans are 100% preventable because our lawmakers have the authority and duty to remove these criminals from our Nation’s streets permanently. 

The Biden Administration must be held accountable for its false claims of prioritizing the removal of public safety, national security, and border security threats, as well as its continuous lie that it is building a “safe, humane and orderly” system. The American people deserve answers from their elected representatives in the form of robust congressional oversight procedures. Additionally, as Congress develops the DHS funding bill, it should use the appropriations process to restrict funding for the White House’s misguided priorities unless a shift in its border policymaking occurs. Congress should compel the Biden Administration to detain criminal illegal aliens at the consistent high targets of past years, or else lose funding for other initiatives. For the safety of our Nation and the well-being of the American people, enforcement standards cannot continue to be at an all-time low.

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