ICE on Track to Remove Fewer Illegal Immigrants From Arizona This Year; Past Two Years Set Records for Removals

The Phoenix office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is on track to remove fewer illegal immigrants from Arizona in 2010, following what it says are two record-setting years for removals.

As of July 19, the agency says it has removed 55,699 people from the state back to their countries of origin. Since ICE's fiscal year 2010 ends on September 30, the agency probably will fall short on removals when compared to the previous two years.

(We're using ICE's bureaucratic term, "removed," because most people booted out of the country are not officially deported.The vast majority of apprehended illegal immigrants opt for "voluntary removal" to their home country -- which is Mexico, most of the time -- and never see a judge).

As we reported in our post earlier today about recidivism among illegal immigrants, the agency's busiest office for removals is the Phoenix's, which is responsible for the state of Arizona. The local ICE office took out 81,429 people last year, topping the 2008 record of 72,955.

Unless the rate of removals picks up substantially in the next few weeks, the local ICE office will only remove about 70,000 this year.

That's still a lot of people. And as our previous post shows, about 96 percent of them will be different folks than the ones removed the previous year from Arizona.

But the anticipated lower number breaks ICE's streak of increased removals, which it had touted highly two years ago. Back then, former ICE boss Julie Myers stated in a news release that since the feds were committed to better enforcement of immigration laws, the "record results seen across the country reflect significant, steady progress toward this goal." Myers is gone now, replaced by John Morton. But our calculated statistic probably doesn't mean that Morton and ICE have changed their mission. The Border Patrol, which provides ICE with the largest source of people to be removed, has logged fewer apprehensions at the border this year than last.

If the federal government can't stop Arizona's new immigration law, SB1070, from taking effect July 29, these removal numbers should go back up in 2011 -- maybe way up.