President Trump’s first campaign promise was to tackle illegal immigration and deport illegals, especially those convicted of crimes in the United States.
While the work is proceeding as planned, the caseload is so enormous it has created a backlog that is hindering effective enforcement.
The Obama administration left the government’s deportation force in disarray, according to a new report Thursday from the Homeland Security inspector general, which found deportation officers are so overloaded that they lose track of important cases, leaving illegal immigrants roaming communities when they could have been kicked out, reports The Washington Times.
The problem is so bad that officers may even be losing track of critical national security cases, the inspector general said.
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The surge of illegal immigrants under President Obama made the situation worse, adding hundreds of thousands of cases to the docket, even though officers weren’t given any new tools to help them deal with the backlog.
Officers in Washington, D.C., average more than 10,000 cases per person, while deportation officers in Atlanta have more than 5,000 cases assigned to them.
“You might work 18 hours a day, but you still won’t get caught up,” one officer told the inspector general.
The report could give ammunition to President Trump, who has proposed a massive “deportation force” to speed up the arrest and ouster of illegal immigrants, and who has called for a major expansion in detention beds, so more immigrants can be held — making it easier to deport them.
Deporting an illegal immigrant requires getting the home country to issue travel documents — and that home country is often resistant, not wanting to take back a troubled individual. Overloaded agents let those tricky cases slip, leaving illegal immigrants on the streets.
Two years ago that led to a worst-case scenario with a man from Haiti, Jean Jacques, who was released from prison after serving time for attempted murder, but whose home country refused to take him, questioning whether he really was Haitian. Months after he was released, Jacques would go on to kill a young woman after a drug dispute with her boyfriend.
The Jacques case spurred several reviews, including this new report from the inspector general that identified a series of breakdowns at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.