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March 11, 2022Washington, DC, United StatesOperational

ICE releases FY 2021 Annual Report

Data underscores a focus on threats to national security, public safety, and border security

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released the agency’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Annual Report detailing data from ICE’s broad responsibilities, including its role in counterterrorism; counterproliferation; counternarcotics; the investigation of crimes ranging from customs fraud to human trafficking and child exploitation; and the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. The report underscores the significant new actions taken by ICE to focus enforcement priorities on threats to national security, public safety, and border security.

"In Fiscal Year 2021, ICE officers and special agents effectively carried out their national security, public safety, and border security mission despite having to work through the devastating COVID-19 pandemic,” said ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson. “As the annual report’s data reflects, ICE’s officers and special agents focused on cases that delivered the greatest law enforcement impact in communities across the country while upholding our values as a nation.”

The FY 2021 Annual Report provides a comprehensive overview of the efforts of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), Management & Administration, Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), and Office of Diversity and Civil Rights. It discusses key policy and operational changes, including most notably, ICE’s renewed focus of its civil immigration enforcement efforts on the most pressing threats to national security, public safety, and border security, while empowering career law enforcement officials in the field to make discretionary decisions about which noncitizens to arrest, detain, and remove based on the totality of the facts and circumstances in each case. Additionally, the Annual Report features the work of HSI regarding significant criminal investigations to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations, safeguard the homeland, and vindicate the rights of vulnerable victims.

Enforcement and Removal Operations

In January and February 2021, ICE issued interim enforcement priorities, focusing its personnel and resources on aggravated felons and other serious criminals. On September 30, 2021, Secretary Mayorkas released updated enforcement priorities to better focus the Department’s resources on the apprehension and removal of noncitizens who are a threat to our national security, public safety, and border security and advance the interests of justice by ensuring a case-by-case assessment of whether an individual poses a threat. For the first time, enforcement priorities now require an assessment of the individual and the totality of the facts and circumstances to ensure resources are focused most effectively on those who pose a threat.

The public safety impact has been dramatic. ERO arrested an average of 1,034 aggravated felons per month from February through September 2021, a 53 percent increase over the monthly average during the final year of the Obama Administration and a 51 percent increase over the monthly average during the Trump Administration. During the same period in 2021, ERO removed an average of 937 aggravated felons per month, the highest level ever recorded and the greatest public safety impact since ICE began collecting detailed criminality data. 46 percent of ICE removals from February – September 2021 were of serious criminals overall (persons convicted of felonies or aggravated felonies), compared to 17 percent during the final year of the Obama Administration and 18 percent during the Trump Administration.

Among the most high-profile removals of the year, ICE removed a former Nazi concentration camp guard to Germany, likely to be one of the last fugitive Nazis tracked down and removed from the United States. His removal was supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC), the only government entity focused completely on investigating global atrocities and the perpetrators of human rights violations and war crimes, with collaboration from ICE’s ERO, HSI, and OPLA.

In FY 2021, ICE also closed two detention centers: the C. Carlos Carreiro Detention Center in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. Motivated by operational and other considerations, the withdrawal of ICE detainees from these facilities flowed from Secretary Mayorkas’ direction that “we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.” Additionally, ICE shifted its operations away from the detention of families while adapting new and existing detention capacity to address an influx along the Southwest Border. ICE continues to inspect individual detention centers to ensure appropriate conditions through the work of ERO, OPR, and in collaboration with other oversight bodies within DHS.

Homeland Security Investigations

In FY 2021, HSI conducted 34,974 arrests, seized more than 2.45 million pounds of narcotics, identified and/or rescued 1,177 victims of child exploitation, assisted 728 victims of human trafficking, and disrupted and dismantled countless transnational criminal organizations, seizing more than $973 million in criminally derived currency and assets.

Amid the ongoing global pandemic, ICE’s Operation Stolen Promise continued to be a major focus of HSI’s efforts, combating fraud associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, seizing 2,672 items of counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE), counterfeit and fraudulent COVID-19 test kits, medical treatments, therapeutics, and prevention items, and fraudulent web domains associated with COVID-19 fraud. Under these efforts, HSI has seized more than $58 million in illicit proceeds and disrupted or recovered more than $18 million in funds associated with fraudulent transactions.

In addition, due to significant public-private sector partnerships in FY 2021, the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) estimated seizures of items related to intellectual property theft and commercial fraud schemes at record-breaking $822 million manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). The IPR Center, the United States government's key response in the fight against criminal counterfeiting, was established to combat global intellectual property theft and, accordingly, has a significant role policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.

Another significant effort by HSI in FY 2021 involved targeting the illicit funding by designated terrorist organizations Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Quds Force (QF). By combining its broad investigative authorities and expertise in counter-proliferation, sanctions, and financial investigations, HSI significantly disrupted IRGC and QF funding through the sale of Iranian crude oil, resulting in the seizure of 2.6 million barrels of IRGC-QF fuel and crude oil, $64 million in U.S. currency, and the indictment of two Iranian nationals.

In addition, HSI special agents opened the U.S. government’s investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Together with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, HSI enabled the Department of Justice to obtain charges against two conspirators in that offense.